"It seems to me that this whole madhouse, this moral mire in which we now crawl, can in an instant, as if by magic, be changed into something great."

Almost thirty years before von Trotta cast Barbara Sukowa as famed political philosopher Hannah Arendt, the two of them gave cinematic expression to the life of a revolutionary theorist more impatient to grasp the reins of the historical process. Sukowa's portrayal of "Red Rosa" is fiery and rousing, and her exhortations for the proletariat to smash the bourgeois order are so emphatic that the crowd should immediately file out of the cinema and do it.

Luxemburg has been invoked as a hero and martyr by many institutional forms of the German left, including the erstwhile East German Socialist Unity Party and the present-day parliamentary party Die Linke. However, Luxemburg was critical of participation in any form of bourgeois democracy, and her intransigence is underscored in von Trotta’s film.

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