Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Blue Angel

I love to dominate my husband and I sometimes lust for that wonderful feeling of having total power and control over him. I enjoy the occasional thrill of humiliating a man and bringing him down a peg or two. I confess that it makes me wet. However, I love my husband and it pains me to see him suffer any real emotional hurt. For at the end of the day, I participate in this lifestyle with him because it is beneficial to the both of us. My dominance over him and his submission to me work to bring harmony within our marriage. We complete each other.
Nonetheless, I am well aware of men who seek to be so thoroughly dominated that the woman completely strips them of all human dignity. When I did phone calls some of my clients shared this secret desire with me. They wanted a woman to take total control and humiliate them and degrade them until all dignity and self-worth was shattered. Why would a man want that? Why would a woman want to do that? This intrigues me and I know it exists and I know it happens out there.
To fantasize about it or to role-play intense humiliation games can be perfectly healthy and a heck of a lot of fun. However, to allow it to develop into a relationship where the woman strips the man of all dignity and all self-esteem as a human being, it develops into an extreme expression of female domination that is not healthy and can be very dangerous.
What is the breaking point? How far can a woman push a man into the depths of humiliation or into ruin or shame before he loses his mind and possibly goes insane? That brings me to the movie I’ve chosen to review for Predominant. I was unaware of the 1930 German film, “The Blue Angel” until a reader of my blog wrote me and suggested this movie. To quote him,
Thanks for your priority for dramatic quality over fetish content. Did you consider ‘The Blue Angel’ made in 1930 in Germany with Marlene Dietrich? I saw this decades ago and not since, but recall it as a stunning, somewhat creepy tale of a man who gives up every shred of dignity and respect to grovel at the feet of the luscious Marlene's haughty and uncaring cabaret singer.”
Naturally this interested me so I looked it up and found it on Amazon. I downloaded the movie (I might have to buy the DVD later for my private movie collection) and I have to tell you that I was impressed with the acting, the feel, and the overall quality of the film. You have to keep in mind that this movie was made in 1930 and it was Joseph Sternberg and Emil Janning’s first entry into the uncertain realm of talking films.  So don’t expect “Citizen Kane” quality but nonetheless it is an excellent movie. I was leaning toward giving it 4 out of 5 stars but on reflection, I think I’m going to give it 5 stars.

Emil Jannings was very good in “The Blue Angel” but Dietrich stole the show. From the sultriness and dominance of Lola to the intensity with which she is played, Dietrich captivated the audience.  How much of this was Sternberg, his sense of the mechanics of a temptress and his skillfulness in surrounding such a creature with a steamy atmosphere, and how much of it was Dietrich has been debated.

Certainly it was the fantasies of a man, in this case Sternberg, who created the scenes where a dominant female could flourish. He created the scenes where Dietrich did obscene things (for a 1930 audience) such as the casual changing and tossing of her panties, having her grossly spitting into her mascara box, having her drop cigarettes under her dressing table and making Jannings get down and pick them up so that he will be within inches of her bare legs and her neighboring erogenous zone.  It was Sternberg who gave Dietrich the cruel lines, "You've come back; they always do", when the proud college professor returns to her dressing room.  And it was he who directed Lola's sudden and viciously switch from seductress to Humiliatrix on their wedding night.

But it is Dietrich's magnetism, her way of sinking her eyes behind a curtain, her way of teasing men as she flaunts her sexuality, and her ability to blend just the right tones of ‘Men cluster to me like moths around a flame. And if their wings burn, I know I'm not to blame’ as she sings "Falling in Love Again".

Evidently Emil Jannings chose the book “Professor Unrat” by Heinrich Mann because it followed the general line of the kind of stories in which he had made popular. These were stories of fallen idols, men of substance and authority who, for one reason or another (usually because of women), were reduced to ruin and shame.

"Professor Unrat” was a story of a renowned school teacher who lost his position and social standing when he married a demimonde singer (Rosa) and thereafter disgraced himself. Rosa seduces the professor, beginning a relationship with him that sees him catering to her every wish: expensive restaurants, new clothing, a furnished flat, even sorting her laundry.

Eventually he is fired from his position, marries Rosa, and after two years of this marriage, Raat is financially ruined. A friend of Rosa's suggests that Raat give ‘lectures’, which serve as a cover for Rosa to discreetly entertain male clientele in the professor's formerly respectable home. By the end of the book he is reduced to a man that runs through the streets of town where he is mocked and ridiculed.
With Mann's complete endorsement and the nominal collaborative help of three German writers, the director prepared a screenplay which departed considerably from Mann's original story.  His changes were mainly in the cutting of the latter part, updating it and reshaping the role of the woman. As a consequence, it was critical who they got for an actress to play the lead female role, whom they changed the name from Rosa to Lola.
Sternberg originally wanted prominent German actress, Greta Massine, to play the crucial role. When he couldn't get her, he fretted about finding an actress who could portray the right blend of sexuality, femininity, dominance, and cruelty. In 1929, Sternberg wandered into a Berlin cabaret and spotted a woman singing. He was so captivated by her performance that he arranged to give her a screen test for the part of Lola. Her name was Marlene Dietrich and the rest as they say is movie history. This role would launch Dietrich into stardom.
After the success of “The Blue Angel” there followed an amazing collaboration between Dietrich and Sternberg and they made six memorable films together for Paramount in Hollywood; “Morocco”, “Dishonored”, “Blonde Venus”, “Shanghai Express”, “The Scarlet Empress” and “The Devil is a Woman”.

Dietrich’s sexuality, dominance and screen presence, combined with Sternberg’s photography and supreme lighting, mixed in with the sexy costumes created by Travis Banton, all became a recipe to create films that have never been equaled and have stood the test of time. “Morocco” was a particularly notable film as this was Marlene’s first appearance wearing a suit/trousers combo which would become her trademark, and the woman to woman kiss that appeared in the film also caused a stir at the time.
In the final evaluation, “The Blue Angel” has a moral. It is a tale of caution to the man that wants to be stripped of all his value and worth as a human by a woman. It was heart-wrenching watching the Professor's total humiliation at the end of this film. You could feel his shame and emotional pain as Lola orders him to publically debase himself on stage as a clown in front of people who once admired him (while Lola flirts with another man who would become her new lover).  

Humiliation can be fun and it can be a tool that a dominant woman uses to take the male ego down a peg or two, but there must be limits because every person has a breaking point. I’ve heard of the stories of women forcing their reluctant husbands into extreme humiliation, such as forced-bi with another man all for the wife’s entertainment. And there is extreme financial domination where a Mistress takes a man for all of his money, leaving him both broken and broke.

As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say on “Hill Street Blues";

'Hey, let's be careful out there.’

No comments:

Post a Comment