The Blue Angel

Der blaue Engel

dir. Josef von Sternberg

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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One of the earliest German talkies and an acknowledged classic of world cinema, Josef von Sternberg's masterpiece launched his muse Marlene Dietrich to international fame.
Astonishing as ever and the fount for many films — including Fassbinder's gorgeous, candy-coloured Lola and Demy's own first film — The Blue Angel made Marlene Dietrich an international star and an icon of salacious allure; Sternberg referred to her as "a pictorial aphrodisiac." As Lola Lola, the cabaret singer who ensnares the poor, portly Professor Rath (Emil Jannings) and turns him into a crowing cuckold, Dietrich gives a performance as double-barrelled as her character's name. Straddling her small world in top hat and heels, Lola smoulders, croons, and swaggers through half a dozen insinuating tunes; a slow-pistoned personification of sex, she incites masochistic desire in Herr Professor, who comes to the Blue Angel nightclub to ask her to stop corrupting his students. (His whimper arouses her sadistic side.) It's all hell from there, marriage but no baby carriage, humiliation, abasement, attempted murder and death, all gorgeously lit and shot in high Ufa studio/Sternberg style.