Eros in Ketten (1929)

Eros in Ketten [literally: Eros in Chains]
Director: Conrad Wiene
Writer: Louis Nerz, Conrad Wiene
Cast: Emmy Flemmich, Maly Delschaft, Walter Slezak, Christian Holt, Anita Dorris, Bert Torren, Lizzi Natzler, Trude Fiedler-Seitz
Seen on: 6.10.2016

Plot:
Maria (Anita Dorris) is the daughter of a good family, her father (Christian Holt) a magistrate. When Maria strikes up a friendship with Lilo (Maly Delschaft), she meets Heinz (Walter Slezak) and falls in love with him. So much so, that she actually sleeps with him against all conventions. When she ends up pregnant, she knows she has to get an abortion. But abortions are illegal and Maria is promptly arrested and forced to have the child.

The film’s sensationalistic title is bound to give people wrong ideas about the nature of the film. It’s not some kind of (BDSM) erotica, but a highly political take on the topic of abortions. I was surprised, but definitely not in a bad way.

Abortion has been a topic of contention for a long time and seems to be another case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” That makes a film that is almost 90 years old still highly (and depressingly) relevant. Especially since it’s a thoughtful take that is firmly in Maria’s corner and shows her fighting for her right to autonomy, bodily and otherwise. “First you force to me to have the child, then you think you can take it away from me like kittens from a cat,” she proclaims at one point – and we still force women to go through the exact same thing (even if the forcing has become more insidious and less obvious).

Maria only finds solace and support with the women around her, another beautiful point of sisterly solidarity that we could do with seeing more often in films. It certainly warmed my feminist heart.

In the end, things do work out well for Maria, an ending I am both happy about – because I wanted her to do well – and that felt a little out of place and too easy with its solution of pretty much every problem that ever existed. But a bit of unlikeliness for a good ending is a beautiful thing.

I saw the film with live music by Benedikt Vecsei and that was just the last thing to really round off the cinematic experience: it fit perfectly and was beautiful. I hope that the film in combination with the music will be more easily accessible at some point.

Summarizing: Great.

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