The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is a 1975 film adaptation by Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta of the novel of the same name by Heinrich Böll. The title character is an innocent housekeeper whose life is ruined by an invasive tabloid reporter and a police investigation when the man with whom she has just fallen in love turns out to be a radical bank robber. The film stars Angela Winkler as Blum, Mario Adorf as Kommissar Beizmenne, Dieter Laser as Tötges, and Jürgen Prochnow as Ludwig.

The film, unlike the novel, ends with a scene at Tötges' funeral, with his publisher delivering a hypocritical condemnation of the murder as an infringement on the freedom of the press.

In interviews for the 2003 Criterion Collection DVD release of the film, Schlöndorff and other crew members argue for the film's continued relevance today, drawing an analogy between the political climate of panic over terrorism in 1970s West Germany and the post-September 11, 2001 situation in the U.S.


Katharina Blum is an innocent woman who works as a housekeeper for a famous corporate lawyer, Hubert Blorna, and his wife Trude. Her life is ruined by an invasive tabloid reporter, Werner Tötges, who works for a tabloid simply known as The Paper. Katharina lands in the papers when the police begin to investigate her in connection with Ludwig Götten, a man she has just met and quickly fallen in with love, and who is accused of being an anarchist, a bank robber, and an alleged terrorist. Police suspect Katharina of aiding and abetting Götten.

Throughout the film, Katharina's limits are tested, and her dignity, as well as her sanity, is on the line as she tries her best to make her voice heard and the truth known. After Tötges visits Katharina's mother, who is recovering from surgery in the hospital, her mother dies. Ludwig is captured; Katharina had allowed him to hide out at the country house of Alois Sträubleder, a political leader who was pursuing her romantically and had given her the key to his country villa. It turns out that Ludwig was not a bank robber but instead a deserter from the Bundeswehr who stole two regiments' pay.

Unable to find justice for herself or make the negative press coverage stop, Katharina murders Tötges and his photographer. Katharina and Ludwig see each other once more, passionately clinging to each other as they pass one another in the basement of the prison where they are initially held.

In an epilogue, at Tötges's funeral, his editor delivers a hypocritical speech about how his murder was an attack on democracy and the freedom of the press. The film's final image is a block of text that appears over Tötges's funeral wreath and casket, linking the film's depiction of The Paper's yellow journalism to the practices of actual German tabloid Bild-Zeitung. This text also appears at the beginning of Heinrich Böll's book. It reads:

The characters and action in this story are purely fictitious. Should the description of certain journalistic practices result in a resemblance to the practices of Bild-Zeitung, such resemblance is neither intentional, nor fortuitous, but unavoidable.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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