the silence after the shot

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Original title the silence after the shot
Country of production Germany
original language German
Publishing year 2000
length 95 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Volker Schlöndorff
script Wolfgang Kohlhaase ,
Volker Schlöndorff
production Friedrich-Carl Wachs ,
Arthur Hofer ,
Emmo Lempert
camera Andreas Höfer
cut Peter Przygodda

The silence after the shot is a German feature film from the year 2000 that deals with the recording of RAF dropouts in the GDR in the early 1980s. The film describes the life of the ex- terrorists in exile in the GDR and their exposure before German reunification in 1990.

The film premiered on February 16, 2000 in the competition at the Berlin International Film Festival , in which Bibiana Beglau and Nadja Uhl each won the Silver Bear for Best Actress . Director Volker Schlöndorff was also awarded the Blue Angel for the best European film in the competition program. The film was released in German cinemas on September 14, 2000. In English-speaking countries it ran under the title The Legend of Rita (English: Rita's legend); the French film title is Les Trois Vies de Rita Vogt (German: The three lives of Rita Vogt).


The film begins with the protagonist looking back at the time of radical militancy in the 1970s, at initially happening-like bank robberies by a gang of fun guerrillas in which chocolate kisses are distributed, and a stay in a military training camp in the Middle East . The fact that group members return to West Berlin under a false name via Berlin-Schönefeld Airport does not remain hidden from the State Security . This leads to the first contact between Rita Vogt and the Stasi officer Erwin Hull, who offers the young woman as a contact person.

After a disastrous liberation campaign by their leader Andreas Klein from a West Berlin prison, in which a person dies and Klein is injured, Rita remembers the encounter with Hull. The group finally managed to escape to the GDR via the Friedrichstrasse train station . When exchanging ideas about motives and goals, Hull assures them that they can freely travel to third countries for their activities. Since they are now being wanted in West Germany, the group moves to Beirut , where they - now understanding themselves as "part of the international struggle" - witness the Lebanese civil war . Years later, now stranded in Paris , there are growing tensions within the group. When a member shoots a police officer and the pressure to search in Western Europe becomes too great, the friendly Stasi employees make them an offer to equip them with new identities in order to be able to build a living in the GDR. However, the group prefers plane tickets to Beirut to everyday socialist life. Only Rita decides, surprisingly for everyone, to live in the GDR under the conditions set by the state organs. Later we learn that two group members were killed in an exchange of fire with the police on the German-French border.

The film now focuses entirely on the biography of Rita Vogt. Rita quickly fits into her new bourgeois life after she was placed under the name Susanne Schmidt at VEB Modedruck. There she befriends the impulsive, alcohol-dependent textile worker Tatjana, who is perceived by her colleagues as a disruptive factor and openly hostile to them. Rita's political idealism, for example, when she generously donates to one of the compulsory solidarity rallies for Nicaragua , is perceived with alienation or dismissed as naive. A close friendship soon developed between the two women, which ended abruptly when Rita was recognized by a work colleague after a search was made on western television. The officers of the State Security immediately remove Rita from their surroundings. When Hull explains to her that there will be no return to her life as Susanne Schmidt , Rita briefly protests. Their protest fell silent, however, when he referred to international conventions against terrorism that the GDR had signed, the credibility of which would be at stake if Rita's disguise were to be exposed, and she threatened, “Big wheels are turning, it's easy to get crushed The Stasi officers allow only a brief, painful farewell to Tatiana. She was later arrested on the basis of her presumed knowledge of Rita's past and, since she refused to cooperate with the state security, was only released again when the GDR collapsed.

Rita has to change her identity again and is now employed as Sabine Walter in another city in the company childcare. She dedicates herself to her new job with great enthusiasm and in this role she gets to know and love the student Jochen during the summer holidays on the Baltic Sea. There she happened to meet Friederike Adebach again, who - now married and mother of a son - was also forced to go into hiding after the West Berlin prisoners were liberated and found shelter in the GDR. But contrary to what it seems, she is suffering a lot from her new existence. Despite all her caution, Rita finds it increasingly difficult to keep her legend alive in front of her boyfriend. When Jochen asks her to become his wife and go with him to the Soviet Union , where he was offered a job as an engineer, the Stasi also forbids her to do so in order to avoid political entanglements. After all, Rita reveals her true identity to him. When the GDR collapsed in 1989/90, Hull's superior revealed during an interview that the West had known for a long time that wanted terrorists were living under assumed names on the territory of the GDR and that their extradition was now being demanded. Friederike Adebach is arrested, and Rita's discovery also seems only a matter of time, as the State Security can no longer protect her. When Tatyana rings the doorbell after her release from prison, full of anticipation, the security forces of the police are waiting there and overwhelm Tatyana, who is completely surprised. At one last meeting, Hull advised Rita to avoid airports and large train stations when fleeing, as she is now being sought in the east and west. Rita eventually steals a motorcycle and is gunned down by a police officer while trying to escape from a traffic control on a country road. The film ends with the fade-in “Everything was like that. Nothing was exactly like that. "


As of 1980, ten people from the ranks of the Red Army faction and their environment who had given up the armed struggle lived in the GDR. The "RAF dropouts" were given new résumés by the local authorities and settled in the GDR with the help of the Ministry for State Security. Many of the motifs in the script are based on the life of Inge Viett , but the story also draws on experiences of Silke Maier-Witt , Susanne Albrecht and others. Inge Viett accused the two authors Volker Schlöndorff and Wolfgang Kohlhaase of having used their 1997 autobiography Never Was I Fearless . However, both parties were able to reach an agreement out of court. Cristina Moles Kaupp comments in the mirror : “May the stations of her life have been incorporated into the meticulous research of Schlöndorff and screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase, the similarities end when Rita's life begins in the GDR. The fictional experiences of the impressively portrayed anarchist in the workers 'and peasants' state are much more exciting than the detailed reproduction of a political reality. ”As a result, Moles Kaupp continues,“ the film gains in undogmatic, sometimes even humorous lightness ”.

The silence after the shot was created under the direction of Babelsberg Film GmbH in a co-production with Mitteldeutscher Filmkontor and Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) in cooperation with Arte Deutschland TV GmbH. The shooting took place from mid-September to early December 1999 in Berlin and Paris, in Gera and the surrounding area, on Rügen , on the Baltic Sea, as well as in the Babelsberg film studio in Potsdam . The production costs were almost five million Deutschmarks. The first broadcast on German television took place on September 8, 2003 in the ARTE program .

For leading actress Bibiana Beglau , as well as for Harald Schrott, it was the first role in a movie. Nadja Uhl and Alexander Beyer were also at the beginning of their film careers. Martin Wuttke had already made a name for himself as a theater actor. Thomas Arnold , who embodies the right hand of Stasi officer Hull in the film, was seen in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others in 2006 in a similar role as assistant to Culture Minister Bruno Hempf.

In addition to the titles Street Fighting Man by the Rolling Stones and If You Love Somebody Set Them Free by Sting , the film also features songs by the East Berlin band Silly , including EKG and Bataillon d'Amour . In one scene when Rita and Tatjana talk to each other at a company party and later dance, a band covers the title Live Is Life , with which the Austrian group Opus landed a number one hit in 1985. The part of the film story that tells of Rita's life in the GDR seems to take place in the second half of the 1980s and Rita only moved to the GDR in the middle of the decade.


Reception in Germany

According to the lexicon of international films , the silence after the shot is “a convincing attempt to come to terms with German-German history. The collaboration between the GDR-knowledgeable author and the director, who was also connected to the 1968 generation in terms of film, resulted in a film with an authenticity seldom experienced in post-war German films. Pointed in the dialogues and staged atmospherically coherent, the touching play of the two main actresses, which removes the boundaries between fiction and reality, is particularly impressive. "

For Marie Anderson, the final sentence with which the audience is released from the film emphasizes "once again the fictional, speculative character of this film, which ultimately deliberately refuses to allow its protagonists to directly grapple with the responsibility for their attitudes and actions." By portraying the personal fate of the radical left aside from media headlines and moral evaluations, Volker Schlöndorff “went on a tightrope walk in which he succeeded in moments of moving emotionality and turmoil,” Anderson certifies the filmmaker. The Wiesbaden Film Rating Center , which gave the film the rating of “particularly valuable”, praised it: “The dense staging succeeds seemingly effortlessly in scenes like the one of the accidental re-encounter with an old companion ( Jenny Schily ), in which the high price of adaptation is easy to understand the GDR system becomes clear. "

Ralf Blau from Cinema considers Schlöndorff's staging to be "refreshingly straightforward", but shows a lack of interest in the psychology of his characters. Everyday life in the prefabricated building is all too conflict-free, and the dropout finds her way into her new life almost effortlessly. Although the film rushes from event to event without exploring the emotional potential of the plot points, film critic Hanns-Georg Rodek does not see any deficits in this. Rodek writes in Die Welt that the director avoids by renouncing too much intimacy, especially in view of the “strong screen presence” of the main actress, that the protagonist of his story can easily become a figure of identification . In an effort to quickly check off Rita's history, Susanne Weingarten criticizes in the mirror that the film disregards “the ideological where the character comes from” and thus “also robs her where the psychological tension”. "But what it must mean one day to wake up one day in a foreign city in a foreign state [...]" disappears, according to Weingarten, "behind Rita's optimistic smile." Silvia Hallensleben also objects to the "vague and undifferentiated" political presentation History and the woodcut-like interior of the group, which make it impossible to understand the motivations of the characters. At the same time, the reviewer in the Tagesspiegel praised Kohlhaase's ability to escalate ideological conflicts into catchy dialogues and attested the “Stasi scenes in wood-paneled office rooms and party cellars” with “cabaret sharpness” in their best moments. On the other hand, the language of the terrorists, whose jargon works “as if they were reciting their own leaflets” and was called “formulaic” or perceived with astonishment, was offended. FAZ reviewer Andreas Kilb, on the other hand, interprets this against the historical background and concludes: “Paris, end of the seventies. The slogans sound hollow, the terror is over. "

Nevertheless, the silence after the shot is “an extraordinary film” that successfully combines “two outstanding traditions of German post-war cinema [, ...] the socio-political aspirations of West German auteur films and the lifelike atmosphere of East German Defa productions”. Ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it succeeds on screen what is so difficult in real life, says Ralf Blau from Cinema. Zeit reviewer Georg Seeßlen does not share this assessment and criticizes in particular the “strange” “pointing and drawing gesture” with which the protagonist's terrorist history is told: “The silence after the shot could have been the German film of the decade. But even in its best, most precise and tender passages, clichés haunted, if the symbol prevails over sensation, there is no connection between two very different ways of telling people and history. ” Hanns-Georg Rodek , on the other hand, takes the view that the film benefits from the Distance to the events that he saw from the cross-over point of view of the West director, who “approaches everyday life in the GDR,” and the East scriptwriter who “seeks to understand a rebellion that is in his Land never took place ”, win.

Reception abroad

New York Times critic AO Scott sees The Legend of Rita as Schlöndorff's return to the complex, politically emphatic and clairvoyant filmmaking that distinguishes his strongest directorial work (“a return to the politically urgent, ethically complex and clear-sighted filmmaking that marks his strongest work "). In its clarity and intensity, as well as thematically, the film is reminiscent of The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum and The Fake - a tenor that J. Hoberman from The Village Voice also joins (“Schlöndorff's strongest film in decades, and one harking back to his 1976 Lost Honor of Katharina Blum "). Schlöndorff's film is at once vivid political thriller and abstract analysis ( "both thoughtful and melodramatic, a vivid political thrillers as well as an abstract analysis") logical, (chrono) inconsistencies are doing as well as questions about Rita's moral of Bibiana Beglaus shiny representational power largely in pushed into the background (“largely eclipsed by Bibiana Beglau's incandescent performance”), says Hoberman. In their reviews on the occasion of the US theatrical release, both Hoberman and Scott interpret media reports from January 2001 about the discovery of the militant past of German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as an indication of the topicality of the film (“That glory [the wild glory of terror] may be gone, but it is scarcely buried ”). But even without this additional relevance, AO Scott finds that The Legend of Rita is an impressive document, an attempt to settle a chapter of recent history that is all too easily covered by feelings of triumph and complacency (“a powerful document, an attempt to reckon with a recent history too easily airbrushed by triumphalism and complacency ").

In his review in the New Yorker , David Denby particularly emphasizes the expressive play of the main actress (“we can't take our eyes off Beglau”), Schlöndorff's story is just as immediate and lively (“equally direct, abrupt, and vivid”). The film impressively conveys the restlessness of a life in constant fear of discovery ("captures a strong sense of life as a fugitive"), as well as Rita's growing realization that personal happiness will probably only be short-lived for her ("as well as Rita's creeping awareness that she can never expect to experience lasting happiness "). Beglau shows in a complex performance how reactionary vigor transforms into that peacefulness that helps it to adapt to any new environment and which - as she discovers, possibly even more corresponds to its actual nature (“a complex performance, melting from reactionary vigor to the kind of harmless placidity that will help her blend into the scenery - and, she discovers, may be closer to her true character ”), says Derek Armstrong from .

Roger Ebert sees Schlöndorff's work less as a parable about guilt and the inner drive of his protagonist; The Legend of Rita paints a picture of increasing disillusionment, the breaking away of convictions during the last decade of the Cold War (“this isn't a simplistic parable about her guilt or motivation; it's about the collapse of belief during the last decade of the Cold War "). Instead of using an overly simple political perspective, the film shows how individual life plans in the vortex of events such as the division and reunification of Germany became the plaything of history ("doesn't adopt a simplistic political view. It's not propaganda for either side, but the story of how the division and reunification of Germany swept individual lives away indifferently in its tide "). Like Schlöndorff's drama The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, set in West Germany in the 1970s, the film carries the same message: When it comes to the interests of the state, the individual counts for nothing (“When the state's interests are at stake, individual rights and beliefs are irrelevant").


Berlinale 2000

European film award

German film award

Manaki Brothers Film Festival 2000

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c cf. Susanne Weingarten: BBQ party with the Stasi. Volker Schlöndorff shot the life of the terrorist Inge Viett - and got in a lot of trouble , Der Spiegel 7/2000 of February 14, 2000
  2. cf. Dream of a just world. A conversation with Volker Schlöndorff , from September 21, 2006
  3. ^ Inge Viett: Punch and Judy Theater in No Man's Land , concrete , No. 4, 2000
  4. Schlöndorff vs. Inge Viett - Dispute about copyright settled , Spiegel Online from September 14, 2000
  5. Cristina Moles Kaupp: "The silence after the shot" - From the fun guerrilla to the RAF , Spiegel Online from February 16, 2000
  6. The silence after the shot. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed November 28, 2016 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  7. Marie Anderson: From the personal in the political ( memento of the original from July 11, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Excerpt from the jury's statement of the German Film and Media Assessment (FBW)
  9. a b c Ralf Blau: The silence after the shot ,
  10. a b c Hanns-Georg Rodek: Silence after silence , Die Welt from February 17, 2000
  11. ^ A b Silvia Hallensleben: "The silence after the shot": A German Rita , Der Tagesspiegel of September 12, 2000
  12. a b Georg Seeßlen: Two kinds of madness - Volker Schlöndorff's split film about a split country , time 38/2000
  13. Andreas Kilb: The confusion of the pupil Rita. In: FAZ , September 14, 2000, archived from the original on June 22, 2007 ; Retrieved April 6, 2016 .
  14. a b A. O. Scott: In 1970's Germany, a Young Terrorist Keeps Changing Her Identity, Not Her Ideals , The New York Times, January 24, 2001
  15. ^ A b J. Hoberman: Fables of Reconstruction , The Village Voice, January 23, 2001
  16. David Denby : The Legend of Rita ( Memento of the original from December 18, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , The New Yorker dated February 12, 2001 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. a b Derek Armstrong: The Legend of Rita  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , 2Template: Dead Link /  
  18. Roger Ebert: The Legend of Rita , Chicago Sun-Times, February 23, 2001