In April 1920, the Bavarian writer Lena Christ put an end to her own life in the Munich Waldfriedhof. The film tells the story of the tragic life of this unhappy woman. “The troubled life and romantic death of the waitress, nun and writer who was illegitimate, mistreated by her own mother, and married twice”- is the film’s subtitle. It tells the story of Lena Christ’s life based on her autobiographical novel “Erinnerungen einer Überflüssigen” (Memories of a Redundant Person) and the book written by her husband, Peter Benedix “Der Weg der Lena Christ” (The Life of Lena Christ).
The title role is played by Heidi Stroh, her mother by Edith Volkmann and her husband by Eberhard Peiker. “The film translates Lena Christ’s plain and simple autobiography partly into a kind of Mannerist artificiality, partly into a ‘Chamber of Horrors’ of inhuman suffering. In spite of these alienation effects, it remains a harrowing account of a victim of zeitgeist and prejudice” (International Film Lexicon). Hans W. Geißendörfer comments: “My film is neither a sentimental work nor a dialect piece. What I am interested in is the authoritarian structure of the environment that shaped this particular fate”. —geissendoerfer-film.de
Born in Augsburg in 1941, Hans W. Geißendörfer was the son of a clergyman. While studying German literature, African languages, dramatics and psychology, he became interested in the medium film. He got himself involved with the student theater and made his first documentaries and underground films using a 16 mm camera.
After graduating from university in 1967, Geißendörfer traveled Asia and Africa before entering the movie business as an assistant director to George Moorse. In 1969, he made his directing debut with the TV movie “Der Fall Lena Christ”. His first big-screen movie, the idiosyncratic vampire story “Jonathan”, won Geißendörfer a German Film Award in 1970 – three more were to follow throughout his career. In 1976, he won the award for “Sternsteinhof” (“The Sternstein Manor”), in 1979 for the adaption of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Glass Cell” – which also earned him an Oscar nomination – and in 1982 for “Der Zauberberg” (“The Magic Mountain”). In cinemas, the adaptation… read more