Die Stille nach dem Schu▀ (The Legends of Rita) (2000)




Director:     Volker Schl÷ndorff. 

Starring:     Bibiana Beglau (Rita Vogt),  Martin Wuttke (Erwin Hull),  Nadja Uhl (Tatjana),  Harald Schrott (Andreas 'Andi' Klein),  Alexander Beyer (Jochen Pettka),  Jenny Schilly (Friederike Adebach),  Mario Irrek (Joachim Klatte),  Franca Kastein (Anna),  Thomas Arnold (Gerngross),  Dietrich K÷rner (General),  Rudolf Donath (Tatjanas Vater),  Monika Pietsch (Tatjanas Mutter),  Matthias Wien (Doktor Gruber).

a terrorist in West Germany moves over to East Germany but is afraid her cover will be blown, especially when East and West Germany unite


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

West German leftist terrorists rob a bank.  While doing so, they shout such phrases as "Down with capitalism!"   One of the terrorists later tells a woman named Tatjana that the 1970s were their glory days.  They could abolish injustice and the state or vice versa as they were one and the same. 

East German agents are watching Rita Vogt as she travels through an airport.   The senior agent, named Erwin, says that she has a pistol on her.  They have a guard stop her.  He discovers the pistol and she is interviewed by the agents.  Erwin checks her passport and says it says here Marianne Berg.  But he knows she is really Rita Vogt.  She asks if she can travel through and Erwin says yes as long as she keeps him informed of her whereabouts.  He gives her a telephone number, says his name is Erwin and tells her to call if she moves around or if she gets into some trouble. 

Rita sits with other members of her leftist group.  One radical says that the lawyer Gruber wants to defend their comrade Andreas Klein (known as Andi).  Rita says that will get Andi another ten years. 

Friederike Adebach goes to the jail with Gruber to talk with Andi.  They are let in to speak with Andi.  Meanwhile a radical comes to the jail entrance and talks with the guard there.  Friederike goes into her bag, pulls out one pistol and gives it to Andi.  She takes the other pistol in her bag.  A guard runs for it with Andi right after him.  Gruber chases after Andi.  There are a couple of shots in the next room.  Friederike goes into the other room and sees both the guard and Gruber shot.  She is upset that violence was involved.  While all this was happening, the radical talking with the entrance guard pulls a gun on him and forces him to open the door.  Out go Andi and the other radical.  They jump into a van driven by Rita.  Rita and Andi, sweethearts, give each other a big kiss.  She asks where is Friederike and they tell her to get going.  Friederike comes out from the prison outside door, runs to the van and gets in. 

Rita is back at the airport, but this time with the gang.   The East German police stop Rita to talk with her.  She gives them the telephone number of comrade Erwin and they call him.  After a bit, they let Rita and her friends go. 

Erwin goes to speak with the head of intelligence, who he refers to as Comrade General.  The General says that they will have to get to know these leftists very well.  The group is gathered together.  An agent with Erwin takes three pistols from the four radicals.  Erwin then invites them to a barbecue.  At the barbecue Andi describes himself now as a free man on free soil.  That's good, but Erwin tells them that here in the GDR they won't tolerate any terrorist acts. 

On the television from West Germany the news is of the recent bank robbery.  They say that the lawyer Gruber is dead.  They give the names of other members of the leftist gang, including that of Andi and Rita Vogt.  Rita and Andi make love.  Erwin and the other agents spy on their guests. 

Rita says that they went to Lebanon with its civil war.  Then they went to Paris and got stuck there.  A French motorcycle cop stops Rita on her motorcycle with her radical passenger, who is not wearing the mandatory helmet.  Rita, afraid that they will be arrested, takes off.  The French cop start chasing her.  She lets her radical friend off the cycle and tells her to get lost.  Rita continues on.  Having trouble shaking the motorcycle cop, she turns into a parking garage.  She gets off the cycle and tries to escape through a door, but it and another door are locked.  The cop arrives at the scene and Rita shoots him dead. 

Rita tells Erwin that some of their comrades want out.  She says:  "We have to leave France."  Erwin says: "I know."  Erwin speaks to the General.  He explains that they have ten radicals who want to disappear, preferably to Angola or Mozambique.  Erwin comes back to report to the radicals that the East German government will not send them to Mozambique or Angola.  The radicals are all wanted internationally and being white they will stick out like sore thumbs.  The radicals might be traced back to the East Germans.  Instead, they will be given new identities and will live in East Germany.  But, they must led normal lives, so as not to draw attention to themselves.  In addition they will have no contact with each other. 

The radicals are given training.  They learn how to fire the RPG-7 Soviet anti-tank weapon.  Andi shows up one day with a new girl.  Rita doesn't like it because Andi and the new woman seem to be a pair.  In one of the rooms with others present, Rita tells Andi that he was her one true love. 

Erwin gives four airplane tickets for Beirut to Rita, Andi, the new girl and one other radical.  But Rita gives her ticket back to Erwin.  She runs out of the house and deep into the forest.  She cries. 

Rita is going to stay in East Germany. Erwin talks to her and tells her that they will now begin her legend.  He explains that a legend is her fake life that will become her real life.    Rita cuts her hair short and dies in dark brown.  She wears it pulled back.  Rita is given a new name, Susanne Schmidt, and a new apartment.  She now works in textile printing.   She develops a close relationship with her co-worker Tatjanna, who has a real problem with liquor.  At a party Rita and Tatjanna dance together. 

Rita goes to Tatjanna's apartment but she doesn't answer the door.  So Rita has to get in by going through a window.  They go shopping and Tatjanna shoplifts a bottle of vodka.  They come back to the apartment and Tatjanna gets drunk.  Rita tells her that she came from West Germany and likes it better in East Germany.  Tatjanna and the other women co-workers find this very strange, because all the emigration is one-way:  East Germans getting out and heading to West Germany.  When Tatjanna goes to sleep, Rita pours the half bottle of vodka left down the sink.

When Tatjanna awakens and sees the booze gone, she is angry.  She starts to leave, but Rita locks her into the apartment with a key.  Tatjanna tries to climb out the window and then out through the outside balcony, but is again stopped by Rita, who stays with her until she detoxifies.  Once detoxified, Rita teaches Tatjanna to drive a car. 

At a party a report comes over the television about Andi and his girlfriend having been killed in a shoot-out at the border with France.  The report goes on to say that Rita Vogt is still wanted and can be recognized by a big scare on her left elbow.  This upsets Rita.  To not think about it, she grabs Tatjanna and dances madly with her.  They go over to Rita's place.  Later Tatjann kisses Rita sexually, but then says that she had better go. 

Changing clothes one day at work a colleague sees the scar on Rita's left elbow.  She puts two and two together and knows Rita is one of the wanted leftists.  She whispers to Rita:  "How do you live with a past like yours?"

Rita calls up Erwin to report that she has been recognized.  They bring Rita to a compound.  Erwin has her write a letter to Tatjanna saying that she will be back in a few days.  Erwin says that he is sorry about what happened to Andi.  He also says the letter to Tatjanna is a way to buy time for them.  Rita says she wants to go back to Tatjanna.  Erwin tells her that she can't go back. 

There is a new legend for Rita.  Her new name is Sabine Walter and her story is she's too young to stay a widow.  Erwin advises Rita that she should wear glasses, so she does.  And, finally, he gives Rita permission to visit Tatjanna one more time because they need a final chapter to the story.

By this time Tatjanna knows that Rita is a terrorist.  Rita says goodbye to her, telling her that she is going back home.  Tatjanna says she is coming with her friend.  Now they really kiss each other.  Rita says:  "I might come back."  Tatjanna responds:  "But then I'll be gone."  She cries as Rita leaves.

An agent shows Rita her new apartment.  She works in a railway car construction factory.  She meets her new co-workers:  Chrisite, Beate and Monika.  The boss asks Rita if she can swim?  Yes, she can.  So he has her working with his wife at a summer camp for kids as a lifeguard and care taker.  A young lifeguard named Jochen Pettka starts to fall in love with her.  They are dating.  The blonde at work likes Jochen so she is mad at Rita.  Jochen and Rita kiss.  Old blondie tells her:  "You're a fast worker."  One night Rita sneaks out and goes skinny-dipping in the Baltic Sea with Jochen. 

One day Rita watches a public performance of a chorus and spots her radical comrade Friederike Adebach.  She stares at Friederike until the woman sees her too.  They hug and speak after the musical performance.   Friederike is married now and has a son.  Rita says:  "I'm glad that you're happy."   Friederike responds:  "Where did you get that idea?"  She leaves with her husband and son. 

Jochen visits Rita and tells her that he wants to marry her.  He will be going to Moscow and he wants Rita to come along.  The two have sex together with a little bit of nudity involved.  Rita has to go see Erwin to ask him if she could go to Moscow with a husband?  Erwin talks with the General and tells her she cannot go.  Rita decides to tell Jochen the truth.  He finds it hard to believe.  Jochen says:  "Terrorists are idiots who kill innocent people!"  Rita replies:  "Yes, I did that." 

Tatjanna is in prison (most likely because Erwin knew that she knew the true identify of Rita Vogt).  Erwin comes to visit her.  He wants her to sign a statement that she will keep the agency informed of her whereabouts.  Tatjanna refuses.  Rita writes Tatjanna a letter.  She says now the Berlin Wall is gone.  West German Chancellor Willy Brandt speaks on television about the event. 

The General tells Erwin that the government wants the following people.  A number of West German leftist radicals are on the list.  Erwin asks how did they know?  The General says:  "Perhaps from us."  Erwin has a follow-up question:  "Then why did we hide them?" 

From the newspaper Rita learns that Friederike Adebach has been arrested.  Rita talks with Erwin.  He frankly tells her that her turn for arrest is coming.  Tatjanna goes to Rita's last apartment looking for her.  She knocks on the door and three secret agents grab her.  They ask her:  "Are you Rita Vogt?"

Rita decides to go elsewhere.  She hitches a ride on the back of a motorcycle.  When the driver stops at a rest stop and goes to the restroom, Rita steals the motorcycle and drives off.  Soon she is coming up on a road block.  The police are looking for her.  She guns the bike and tries to make a run for it, but one of the guards shoots her in the back.  Down she goes as the motorcycle slides off the road. 

"That's exactly how it was more or less."


Good movie.  Set against the post-WWII era in the then East and West Germany, we see a bit of life in East Germany as West German radical leftists are given a safe haven in East Germany.  The story centers around Rita who decides to opt out of the radical terrorist group she is with.  The East Germans give her a new identity and then another new identity and Rita soon learns that her criminal past is always going to be with her, no matter how normal she now acts.   Always having to be on the run, Rita decides to take a do-or-die gamble for one last chance at freedom from her past.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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