It there is a single saving grace to Margarethe von Trotta's "Rosa Luxemburg' it may well be that the director has striven to portray her heroine as both a private person and historical personage. While the juxtaposition between the private and public Luxemburg might seem an unwieldy mixture at some points in the film, it is ultimately through this tensión that this film gains its unrelenting power. For the truth seems to lie somewhere between -showing the woman she was and the events which capitulated her into the limelight of her all too brief political career. "Red Rosa," as both her friends and enemies called her, has indeed been a difficult political figure for both the left and the right to grapple with because of her unwillingness to accept simple idealogical formulas as given truths. As a result of this inability to follow a strict party line, and because of her willingness to sound more radical than her writings and actions might otherwise bely, Luxemburg has become one of the martyred saints of 20th-century Marxism and Feminism. Ultimately, she is too complicated to fit neaüy in such convenient categories. The evolution von Trotta traces, carnes the budding revolutionary from her initial position as a social democrat to the hardening line that found her embracing a more radical and equally democratie form of Marxism. If the film has a central flaw it lies in the unclear resolution of Luxemburg's polemic struggle with Leninism. Her life's battle was a struggle that sought to define the leffs inability after the turn of the century to come to terms with a broad base of democratie socialist party participation in contradistinction to the narrower ideological elitist position favored by some Germán and Eastem European theorists who believed in party centralizaron. It is upon this fulcrum that Barbara Sukowa bases her performance. Sukowa, who garnered 1986's best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in this film, shades Luxemburg with nuances that underscore the emotional tensions of the woman Luxemburg, in direct contrast to the unflappable confidenoe the politica) Luxemburg exhibits in public speeches and demonstrations. Sukowa's turn is a stunning tour de force that occupies virtually every moment of this two hour film. There is a tremendous amount of controversy as to who actually sealed Luxemburg's death sentence in 1919 at the hand of the "Freikorps," a volunteer militia comprised of officers of the defeated Imperial Germán army. The film deliberately steers away from the controversy surrounding the actions of the Social Democrats, the Germán Communist Party and the Gemían govemment in power at the time. What the film does not understate, however, is the personal dilemma of a public figure betrayed in love, betrayed in politics and ultimately betrayed by her colleagues. Through all this disappointment Margarethe von Trotta's "Rosa Luxemburg remains an idealistic political theorist and party leader whose example and courage is immortalized through a gripping and intellectually visceral film. "Rosa Luxemburg" will show at the Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty, at 7 pm, Sept. 13-19.
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