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Werner Schroeter's lovely and touching portrait of the great German actress Marianne Hoppe, whose career spanned from the glory days of the Weimar era through the Nazi years to a postwar return to the stage in Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and experimental productions by Robert Wilson and Heiner Müller.
Like Maria Callas, the great German actress Marianne Hoppe was an early passion for Schroeter, his adoration for her resulting in this extraordinary celebration of "The Queen," shot near the end of her life when she was ninety. Ever forceful and captivating, Hoppe reviews a career that spanned from the Weimar era (during which she appeared in productions by Max Reinhardt) to the Nazi years, when her "Aryan face" and expressive voice propelled her to fame in several Ufa studio films (including an early version of Effi Briest), and thence to a return to the stage in Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and experimental productions by Robert Wilson and Heiner Müller. (Wilson is one of her many collaborators who appears in the film.) Like Love's Debris, another touching tribute to aging performers, the complex and fascinating Queen is about much more, including the role of artists during the Third Reich: Hoppe was married to Gustav Gruendgens, the man portrayed as a Nazi collaborator and careerist in the Klaus Mann novel Mephisto and the István Szabó film based on it. (It has been rumoured that Hoppe and Gruendgens married to disguise their shared homosexuality.) Hoppe later referred to her Nazi-era career as a black page in a golden book.