Sunday, May 28, 2017

Devils Mistress

This is my first post of 2017..

In fact first after more than half a year.. and what pushed me enough to re-open my blog was a film and its connection to something I watched and wrote about a few years ago.

Its Bank Holiday Weekend in England. While most of London is basking in glorious sunshine, I was watching a film, which turned out to be glorious as well. I guess, being indoors has its benefits.

This story is about the life of Lida Baarova, a Czech actress who peaked her career in Nazi Germany. The story covers her introduction to cinema by her zealous mother, her relationship with the most popular Actor of her time, and then her affair with Nazi confidante Joseph Goebbels. The story then moves to her tragic downfall after Hitler intervened in her affair.

There were times in the film when I thought that Lida was being very shrewd and selfish for using men on the basis of the gift beauty gives a woman -- the power and control beautiful women have over men enchanted with them. For instance, she tactfully used Joseph Goebbels attraction towards her to enable her film career..

While I was was watching the film, I once again realised my own prejudice and shallowness as I observed how deep in my psyche, I treat men and women differently. I saw that while I thought Lida was in the wrong for being receptive and responsive towards Joseph advances while being in a committed relationship with Gustav Fröhlich, which to me was nothing short of a betrayal of trust, I did not think much of Guavas or Josephs betrayal towards their wives.. That sure says something about me -- I am prejudiced and I am part of the problem - I am the same person I dislike..

As soon as I realised I was being anti-woman by having double standards, I reminded myself that I need to keep trying to break the chains of conditioning and free myself of my own misjudgements.

I have never called myself a feminist, in fact I have always been an equalist (that isn't a real word -- but you get my point!), and for the longest time I hadn't been able to relate to vociferous feminists such as the likes of Simone De Beauvoir or Germaine Greer.. but as years go by, I think I am beginning to realise and appreciate them and their work and struggles. I must admit, I am not still fully convinced and haven't yet joined the Feminist tribe, but I think my stance has softened over the years around the need for feminism and the extreme, excessive, often convulsive, views around being a woman.

Incidents like today where I found myself sat in my bedroom judging Lida, a woman who was living in the 1930s without having much, if any, idea of her life and how the world was in general, and women in specific in war torn Europe back then, is very sobering for my ego and pride.

My alarming double standards often stays guised and I forget that I have them. On a normal day I will defend myself till my throat runs dry that I am not an unfair person -- but I caught myself with my hand in the cookie jar -- I was after all judgemental and being very unfair towards Lida by only focusing on her behaving disapprovingly and totally insulating Gustav or Josephs behaviour. I realised, once again, how my brain is trained to think that although social morals are applicable to women and men, but the failure of observing them is most noticeable when a woman is doing it. Needless to say, there is a whole different debate around what really is moral and who decides it .. but lets not go there as then I will never be able to finish the post.

A bit of trivia: Incidentally, Goebbels wife Magda Goebbels, was called the 'bravest mother in Germany' by none other than Hitler himself as she poisoned her 6 children in Hitlers bunker after the war as according to her the world without Hitler wasn't good enough for her children.. well.
You can find my post about that and the related film here.

In short, Lida Baardva had an interesting life. As they say well behaved women never made history. Watch her story in the film The Devils Mistress. Its in german, but there are prints with Subtitles on it .. I watched it on Netflix UK.

Ps. Lidas' sister Zorka has a story too - and I think that story will also be as remarkable as Lidas.. I read there is a book written about her ... I will try and find it.


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