Die Berührte (Helma Sanders-Brahms, West Germany, 1981)

It seems a good a way as any to start off this look at the sleazier side of world cinema with one of Channel 4’s infamous ‘Red Triangle’ films, broadcast date 28th November 1986. No Mercy, No Future was directed in West Germany by Helma Sanders-Brahms, and is a feminist look at life through the eyes of a schizophrenic young woman played by Elisabeth Stepanek.

Most of the short-lived Red Triangle was pretty disappointing to be honest, lacking in both cinematic and prurient interest. This one at least was fairly nasty. Our heroine is frequently confined to a mental hospital tied to the bed with leather straps. Let out on the streets of a wintry Berlin she strips in public or offers herself sexually to any man showing the least interest in her.

The cinematic style is typically clinical, the camera an impassionate observer rarely moving. The theme takes the theories of R. D. Laing seriously. Mental illness in the young is caused by a combination of having stockbrokers for parents, and organised religion (rather than pushing untested psychoactive drugs and casual sex on youngsters and telling them they’re rebelling). Even as a teenager I could see through the philistinism and intellectual vacuity typical of this school of film-making as basically an excuse for wallowing in female masochism.

First Elisabeth accompanies an elderly gentleman to what looks like the lumber room of an orphanage for a semi-knee-trembler on a discarded bedframe. Then she strips naked in the snow outside an army base and is carried off to the mental hospital, calmly mind, no screaming and kicking. Released, there’s time for one more piece of elderly gentleman action before she returns to the family home to slit her wrists in her parents’ bathroom.

Die-Beruhrte-a01.jpgOutside the army base
Die-Beruhrte-a02.jpgBack at the mental hospital
Die-Beruhrte-a03.jpgChilly commune dormitory

Clip #1 (collage): Elisabeth-Stepanek-naked–Die-Beruhrte-a.avi (42MB)

She joins a happy-clappy Christian commune after this, where she has a good frontal scene with a random stranger in a chilly dormitory. The inevitable happens and she chooses an abortion. Too soon afterwards she accompanies some slackwit from Ghana (must have heard Vogue were looking for an editor again) to an abandoned bomb shelter for naked copulation. Alas Elisabeth is still bleeding so profusely the pair of hogs keep sliding off each other onto the floor. This is by far the nastiest part.

Die-Beruhrte-b01.jpgPost abortion sex
Die-Beruhrte-b02.jpgIn the lair of the winos
Die-Beruhrte-b03.jpgTrying to get a grip

Clip #2: Elisabeth-Stepanek-sex–Die-Beruhrte-b.avi (19MB)

When Elisabeth goes to see her parents about actually marrying this lump they have her sent back to the mental hospital again, screaming and kicking this time. Which, except for flashbacks and a fantasy about stripping in a discotheque, is the end.

Not a good film by any rational standards, but at the time it served well as a stimulating piece of artsy erotica.

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