Margarethe Von Trotta’s 2003 film Rosenstrasse recounts historical events during the Rosenstrasse Protest in Germany through compelling, personal stories about the featured characters. Throughout the film historical facts are presented in the movie through emotional personal stories about the primary characters Lena and Ruth. An example of this is the frequent use of flashbacks and the movie’s smooth transitions from past to present time with Hannah listening to Lena’s memories. Though this movie highlights the history of the Rosenstrasse protests, it is more focused on emotional reactions and moving an audience to leave an impact on the viewer and less on historical facts.
The clothing in the film greatly contributes to the historical accuracy and sets up the time period and provides background about the state of Germany. The use of the yellow star badge signifying that one is a Jew is a key historical symbol in the film. Luckily since she is a young child, someone rips Ruth’s yellow star from her jacket and she is never found and placed into the Rosenstrasse prison or concentration camps. Rosenstrasse focuses on multiple strong female characters and their resistance to Nazi regime. One of the main characters in the film is Lena and she is shown in both “present day” as an old woman and in flashbacks as a young woman in the protest to let her husband out of prison.
Lena’s determination and intelligence shines throughout the film as she continues to try everything possible to get her husband Fabian freed from prison. From going to multiple offices and defending the rules about mixed marriages, to requesting her father and brother’s help, she truly tries every possible measure to free her husband. One difficult moment where Lena starts to doubt herself and the impact she can make is when she must flirt and most likely have sex with a key man in the Nazi regime. It is clear through Lena’s talks with Hannah how suppressed the memories of this time were and how emotionally difficult they were to recount. The way she took in Ruth without asking any questions and loved her unconditionally like her own daughter even after she is reunited with her husband is remarkable and Hannah is deeply touched by this. Another leading character in the film is Hannah, Ruth’s daughter. When Hannah feels lost and cannot get answers from her mother about the past she does some research and eventually gets in contact with Lena. She is smart to not disclose exactly who she was at first to Lena and tried to just focus on learning the facts of the story. Hannah becomes emotionally invested in the story just as the audience of the film gets more invested into the lives of the characters. She is the driving force of the whole film due to her curiosity and bravery to travel to Berlin alone and discover her mother’s story.
Rosenstrasse could be defined as a feminist movie because of the strong female characters taking a stand and protesting against the Nazi regime. The women’s chants stating “murderers” and “we want our husbands back” is powerful and seems to have an effect on the guards outside of the prison, slightly showing their human side. Another reason it can be classified as a feminist movie is how the women are taking care of themselves and protecting each other and their children while also fighting for their husbands. Though this is true, it is interesting that many people believe the Jews in Rosenstrasse prison were going to be let out automatically anyway and that the protests did not have any effect. This film still acts as a model for strong, independent women that help each other out in times of need. Though they greatly desire to have their husbands back throughout the film, for the most part they are able to operate without them when needed.
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