Reviews and notes
Awards and Festivals:
1972 Karlovy Vary Film Festival: Winner
1972 Venice Film Festival: Best Actress
Jutta Hoffmann is a small person with enormous charisma, who establishes such a direct connection with her viewers that they experience each emotion and laugh and cry with her.
- Film critic Heinz Kersten
An entertaining love story!
- The Museum of Modern Art
caused quite a stir when it was released in 1972. Here was a film about an unmarried woman in her thirties caring for two children from two different fathers while working at a chemical factory. And if that wasn't enough, there's a scene where she shares an intimate yet brief kiss with another woman. These were two really provocative ideas 30 years ago. When watching today, however, the only reaction you may have is, "Oh those wacky East Germans."
is definitely a slice of the 70s, preserved for all time. For instance, when else would the extensive use of (the much underrated) xylophone and flute be used in a movie soundtrack? ... In many ways Her Third
is also a living and breathing document of a social movement meant to thoroughly integrate women into society and the workforce as equals. What's most interesting about this is that by today's standards there's nothing even slightly unusual about Margit's situation. To get right down to it, Her Third
could be viewed as the East German ancestor of Sex and the City
Now don't go off thinking that Margit is the spitting image of Carrie Bradshaw, because she isn't. For one thing, working at a chemical factory is far less glamorous than writing a syndicated column. For another, Margit doesn't have the kind of support group Carrie is so lucky to have. Margit has Lucie. Lucie is gutsier than Margit, has a buddy-with-benefits situation going on with a factory co-worker, and looks quite remarkably like Margot Kidder. But then she doesn't have two teen girls to look after. All in all we don't learn too much about Lucie, but she is nice to have around as a sounding board for Margit because, after all, Her Third
is Margit's story.
Thing is, it's not an easy one to follow. Not at first. It might take some time before you fully realize what is going on. It starts out looking like a black and white newsreel with shots of female workers in the factory with dialogue between an interviewer and what sounds to be a factory manager talking about the kinds of wages women are making there...
The next thing you're bound to notice is there are points where you're not exactly sure what you're watching. Well, to be more precise, when you're watching. Her Third
uses a non-linear style of storytelling that thrusts the viewer to different stages in Margit's life—times that relate directly with something going on in Margit's present. You'll know when this happens from a super that pops up on the screen, almost like a chapter heading. Thing is, Margit looks pretty much the same age throughout (no crazy age defying make-up here) so at first you might be a little confused. This does get easier to detect once you get used to it.
The flashbacks make up a big chunk of Her Third
as we first learn about what Margit's destiny was before starting work at the factory and then finding out about her first, and then her second relationship. Her first relationship is with one of her chemistry professors; her second, with a blind man (Armin Mueller-Stahl). For various reasons neither work out. This movie is about Margit's decision to forego waiting for love to strike again and taking matters into her own hands to find "her third."
Margit is played by Jutta Hoffmann, who does a wonderful and subtle job of portraying a woman who has taken her destiny into her own hands. At times sweet and spontaneous, at others frustrated and lonely, Margit is a fully realized character - she's someone you know - not in East Germany, not in 1972, but right now, wherever you are. She could be your co-worker, your friend, or your neighbour. One scene in particular that stands out is when the daughter of her first relationship comes running to her because Dagmar, the daughter from her second relationship, keeps running into things and this time gets knocked down because she ran headlong into a tree. Remember, Margit's second relationship was with a blind man. Margit comes running out of the house and picks up Dagmar like a wet sack of cement and races her back inside the house. At first she quickly checks to see if her daughter's physically hurt in any way, but then, even more importantly she tries to get her daughter to see something. Anything. She tests her. She pleads with her. She paints a huge red dot on a page and begs her daughter to tell her what colour it is. In another movie, a mother in this type of scene might be played sad or resigned or quietly compassionate, but in Her Third
Margit is frantic, and angry, and ruthless, and terrified that her daughter really is slipping into blindness; so if she needs to shake Dagmar like a rag doll to promote sight then that is what she's going to do - not that it will, of course, but that's how desperate she is - how desperate any mother would be. This is not a long scene, but it's a powerful one precisely because it rings so true.
The hand-held camera technique used so frequently today is used extensively throughout Her Third
and it helps evoke the sensation that this here is a slice-of-life - but sometimes it's also a point of distraction. There are moments when the camera totally loses the actors and it takes a second or two to reorient yourself as the viewer. Colours are muted, warm, and very much in the sepia family... a sweet slice-of-life story told in an intriguing non-linear style.
- Jonathan Weiss, DVD Verdict, 1 September 2006
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