Margarethe von Trotta, the most audible female voice of the New German Cinema, had acted for film, written screenplays, and even codirected (The Lost Honor of Katrina Blum with her former husband Volker Schlondorff) before finally embarking on her first solo project in 1977. The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, based on the true story of a social worker who robs a bank to fund a failing day-care center, is an uncompromising work that tackles politics and social issues with a radical fervor and feminist perspective unseen in the work of her contemporaries. Tina Engel plays Christina, a militant revolutionary who becomes a fugitive hunted as much for her politics as her crime, while the young woman she held hostage tries to track her down for her own personal reasons. Von Trotta brings an impassioned intensity to Christina's voyage of self-discovery, which pulls the film through slow passages, blunt political messages, and an occasionally clumsy style, creating a dramatically powerful work that builds to a climactic epiphany at the film's mesmerizing conclusion. After this remarkable debut, von Trotta built on her work in her stylistically assured second film, Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness. Be forewarned that the poor print source results in a muddy-looking tape well below the quality of most commercial tapes. --Sean Axmaker
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