Munich, 1955: A sports journalist meets Veronika Voss, an UFA actress who supposedly had an affair with Goebbels. Now declining, Voss is kept by her “kind” doctor, Dr. Katz, supplying her house, food, clean clothes and her favourite: morphine. Voss, trying to come back towards the cinema, cannot perform an absurdly simple scene, but it attracts the attention of the journalist, who suspects that something’s very wrong regarding her doctor.
Veronika Voss (German: Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss, “The Longing of Veronika Voss”) is a black-and-white 1982 film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. This, Fassbinder’s penultimate film, is the second film of his BRD Trilogy, coming between The Marriage of Maria Braun and Lola. It is also the last film released during Fassbinder’s lifetime.
About the Story
The film is loosely based on the career of actress Sybille Schmitz and is influenced by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.
Munich, 1955. Veronika Voss is a formerly popular UFA film star who is said to have slept with Joseph Goebbels but is now struggling to get roles. She meets a sports reporter named Robert Krohn and is impressed that he does not know who she is. The two begin a love affair, even though Robert already lives with his girlfriend Henriette, who nevertheless realizes that Veronika has an irresistible allure.
Veronika’s behavior is erratic and sometimes desperate, and as Robert delves into her life he discovers that she is essentially a captive to a corrupt neurologist named Dr. Marianne Katz. Dr. Katz keeps Veronika addicted to opiates and uses her power to give or deny drugs as a means to bleed the actress of her wealth. To verify his suspicions, Robert has Henriette approach Dr. Katz and pretend to be a rich woman in need of psychiatric care. Dr. Katz writes Henriette a prescription for an opiate but afterward witnesses her making a phone call in the street outside the office. Dr. Katz then has Henriette killed and with Veronika’s help covers up the crime when Robert arrives with the police.
The film ends tragically as Dr. Katz and her cohorts have Veronika sign over all that she owns and leave her with a fatal dose of pills. After Veronika’s death, Robert observes the villains celebrating their victory and is unable to do a thing.
Veronika Voss (1982)
Directed by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring: Rosel Zech, Hilmar Thate, Cornelia Froboess, Annemarie Düringer, Doris Schade, Erik Schumann, Sonja Neudorfer, Elisabeth Volkmann
Screenplay by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Pea Fröhlich
Production Design by: Rolf Zehetbauer
Cinematography by: Xaver Schwarzenberger
Film Editing by: Juliane Lorenz
Costume Design by: Barbara Baum
Art Direction by: Walter E. Richarz
Music by: Peer Raben
Distributed by: United Artists Classics
Release Date: February 18, 1982