Lili Marleen

Watch Lili Marleen

  • R
  • 1981
  • 2 hr
  • 7.1  (4,248)

Lili Marleen is a captivating drama film, directed by the renowned German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and starring Hannah Schygulla, Giancarlo Giannini, and Mel Ferrer. Released in 1981, the movie was inspired by the popular love song of the same name, which became an unofficial anthem for the German soldiers during World War II.

Set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 40s, Lili Marleen tells the story of a passionate love affair between a young cabaret singer and a Jewish composer. The singer, Willie (Schygulla), is a rising star in the Berlin cabaret scene, and she captures the heart of Robert Mendelsson (Giannini), a talented and idealistic musician. But their romance is threatened as the war looms on the horizon, and their opposing views on the conflict tear them apart.

As Willie becomes a propaganda tool of the Nazi regime, broadcasting her music to the troops on the front lines, Robert joins the resistance and goes into hiding. The two lovers are forced to make difficult choices as they try to navigate the dangerous political landscape of Nazi Germany. Along the way, they encounter a colorful cast of characters, including an American war correspondent (Ferrer) and a powerful Nazi officer (Gottfried John).

One of the most striking elements of Lili Marleen is its evocative portrayal of wartime Germany. Fassbinder's attention to detail brings the period to life, from the seedy glamour of the cabaret scene to the ominous shadows cast by swastikas and searchlights. The film does not shy away from the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime, but it also depicts the humanity and complexity of the people who were caught up in the war. The characters are flawed and conflicted, struggling to reconcile their personal desires with their sense of duty and morality.

At its heart, Lili Marleen is a powerful love story that transcends time and place. Willie and Robert's romance is both passionate and tragic, and their performances lend the film an emotional depth that is rare in war movies. Schygulla, in particular, is a revelation as Willie, imbuing the character with a captivating blend of vulnerability and strength. She sings the titular song throughout the film, and her haunting rendition of the ballad is one of the film's most memorable moments.

In addition to its powerful storytelling, Lili Marleen is also notable for its cinematic style. Fassbinder employs a lush, romantic visual language that is reminiscent of classic Hollywood films. The use of light and shadow is particularly striking, creating a dreamlike atmosphere that contrasts sharply with the brutal reality of the war. The film also features a memorable score by Peer Raben, which blends traditional German folk music with contemporary pop.

Overall, Lili Marleen is a powerful and memorable film that explores the complexities of love, war, and political ideology. Fassbinder's direction is masterful, and the performances by Schygulla, Giannini, and Ferrer are exceptional. It is a moving tribute to the human spirit in times of turmoil, and a reminder that even in the darkest times, love can endure.

Lili Marleen
Lili Marleen doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (4,248)