5 February 1999 | Nick-163
Powerful film based on Heinrich Böll novel
This film is based on the novel of the same name by the German author Heinrich Böll. The book is purported to be written by Böll as a result of an ongoing feud in the German media between Böll and the publisher of the German daily tabloid the Bild Zeitung, a publication known for its lurid and sensational reporting of the news. In his story, Böll attempts to show how damaging irresponsible journalism can be to the lives and reputations of innocent persons caught up in the tide of current events.
The story begins with Katherina Blum attending a party where she meets and is strongly attracted to a young man. She invites him to her apartment and they spend the night making love. The next morning, the young man has gone and the police are storming her door seeking to arrest the overnight guest as a terrorist. Instead, Katherina is arrested and taken to the police station for interrogation as his accomplice. The young terrorist has been killed and Katherina is unable to prove that she had no knowledge of his activities. A tabloid reporter becomes obsessed by the case hounds Katherina, mercilessly destroying her reputation and any semblance of a normal life. The emotional tension continues to build, finally reaching a violent climax.
This is a very powerful and well made film. Böll's message regarding sensational and irresponsible journalism is very clear. After suffering along with the innocent Katharina through the insult, pain and dishonor of her ordeal, I came away from the film with an altered point of view toward tabloid journalism and commercial news reporting in general. In a world where reporters are being found guilty of manufacturing news stories, media agencies are providing dramatic reenactments of sensational news events, and names like O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky are used as teasers to improve the ratings of news programs, this film is a must see.