The Princess and the Warrior

This film was a good follow-up to Run Lola, Run because even though the style and coloring is completely different, the pacing and combination of music and visuals held true. It also helps that they both have the same lead actress. In fact, I was surprised at just how incestuous the casts were, as so many minor characters from Run Lola, Run were cast in much larger roles in this film. It was nice to see the range from some of them.

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The film seems to explore themes of emotion, trauma, and mental illness with many different, yet equally strange characters. Being an American, I was waiting for the entire film for the twist that Sissi, the main character, was actually a patient at the mental hospital all along, and that the whole film was just a part of her delusion. In fact, I was super surprised at how hard the movie focused on Sissi, only to really leave her character unresolved, in order to complete the arc of Bodo instead.

I spent the whole movie wondering if it was a tirade against toxic masculinity in that the first scene with Bodo is him getting fired from his job for crying at a funeral. Although it’s a little extreme of a reaction, it seems normal to the viewer. However, as the film gets farther and farther on, Bodo only really cries when it seems pretty normal for him to cry, yet people always seem to see it was strange or unnatural, such as the doctor at the asylum or Sissi.

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The scene with Bodo hallucinating his wife gave me chills. Not in the “oh-this-is-a-great-film-emotionally” kind of way, but just in that it was so CREEPY. I really thought it was going to be a touching scene, but I was so freaked out the whole time! The lighting was incredible, and the makeup job as well. But the metaphorical implications of wanting love so badly that it burns you (aka snuggling up to a radiator and touching yourself) is pretty nifty, and totally works in this scene. The entire house there was shot so eerily and the location was so far away from the main town that it definitely gave off some great horror vibes.

I was SUPER FREAKED by the ceramic eating scene. At first I thought the kid was going to kill himself, but no, it was almost worse. I’m unsure of thematically what the movie was going for here, but it felt wrong not to comment on the scene. It’s incredibly graphic and really freaky. Of course, it’s just after that Bodo mentions how much the patients care for Sissi. This film didn’t pull any punches, and the effects were absolutely incredible. Same goes for the makeshift tracheotomy. I did not expect the realism of gore in the film.

Normally, I hate the “stare at each other for no reason except it looks cool in movies” cliche, but I didn’t mind it in this film. Usually this has a lot of sexual subtext, but what I liked about this film was that the characters never even kiss. I love non-sexual romance, it’s really refreshing. I then loved the line where Sissi says she sees them as “brother and sister, mother and father”. It’s a little strange, and it insinuates I think that man and woman are opposites or somehow so different. Again, “Lola” uses her magical abilities to take a gun away from someone by staring them down.

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Obviously, the coolest part of the movie is the end. But it’s also the part that really confused me about the meaning of the film. Throughout, I had assumed through my liberal college eyes that the film was critiquing our quickness to stop people from expressing themselves. However, this idea was shattered, when at the end, Bodo’s character finally “gets off the toilet” and replaces himself as a stronger, whole-r, less emotional person. In some ways I actually found it kind of sad, as cool and creative as it was. It was like he was losing all the amazing character development he had gained over the film. It didn’t seem like a recovery, especially since his “new” self was so aggressive to his old self in pulling him out of the car. It almost seemed like he was just stopping himself from progressing as a person, just keeping all this feelings inside. Still, the look on my face when he came out of the bathroom and saw himself at the gas station: such a great moment.

The strength of the film was definitely in its deceptive editing, which I think did a majority of the storytelling by the end of the film. It’s so smart to have the film cross cut between Steine and the attempted murder and successful murder he’s both done in the past and is trying to do in the present. It seems to be a theme in the New German Cinema as all the films I’ve watched in the past week have had at least one fake-out. In this film the fake out was the two jumping off the roof onto what looked like solid ground, revealed to be very algae-covered water upon impact.

I loved the look of this film, in its overly saturated hospital shots, and the rest of the world seeming kind of bleak. It’s a subtle assertion that there’s more life in that hospital than there is anywhere else. And of course, the most saturated area is Maike’s house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by only the ocean.

I don’t really understand the purpose of Maike’s character except she tangentially brings the two main characters even closer together through coincidence. However, unlike Run Lola, Run the thematic existential themes seem weak. A lot of characters don’t seem to have a clear purpose in that metaphor, and I’m not sure if the movie was even trying to assert anything other than that Sissi believes in her dreams and is kind of weird.

Although I did like the film, it was pretty jumbled. I’m unsure of how to understand a lot of the subtext, which makes it hard to me to judge the quality of the story. The script might have been too convoluted to properly represent an idea the way Run, Lola, Run did.

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