Review of Rosa Luxemburg (1986)

Moving picture, 122 minutes

Seen in 2024.

There is one scene in summer sunlight that is romantic in style, conventional for a period piece, and beautiful. The rest of the film looks more like a satire of 1986 West Germany. It’s grey and dreary with strangely minimalistic sets and little more of the sensual entertainments of Joe Hill (1971). The acting is good but surprisingly solemn for the West. It feels more typical of East Germany’s dour attitude to the biography of hard-working communist heroes. The last few scenes denigrate social democracy with such vigour that it’s readable as a critique of either regime, whether it’s the cowardly conceitedness of the capitalist west or the broken promises of the east, like the ending of Roadside Picnic (1972).

If you do watch this movie, make sure to read up on the characters and their place in history first. The movie explains almost nothing and makes frequent jumps in time, when it doesn’t resort to snippets of contemporary film.

moving picture fiction