The Morals of Ruth Halbfass

Trailer · Background Material · Pictures · Official Site
directed by: Volker Schlöndorff
starring: Senta Berger, Helmut Griem, Margarethe von Trotta, Walter Sedlmayr
running time: 89 minutes

Two young lovers are lying in a woodland clearing and dream of a life that is free of all compromises. When they return to the city, they go separate ways; she steps into her red Mercedes sportscar, he gets on a streetcar. The woman, Ruth Halbfass, played
by SENTA BERGER, returns to her husband, a wealthy and very busy industrialist. The man, played by HELMUT GRIEM, goes back to the local highschool, where he is the art teacher.

The pleasant little town in which they live offers few retreats for illicit love making. The never-ending game of hide-and-seek is more frustrating than satisfying and both lovers devise their own little schemes of getting rid of Ruth's husband. One day killers appear in the pleasant little town. They observe the lovers and their rendez-vous. Who hired these killers? Who will be the target of their attack and when will it happen.

Ruth says to her husband, »a woman, because she's a woman, will stop at nothing once she's gotten going«. He laughs at this »piece of nonsense« but as it turns out he may as well be laughing at his own stupidity. While the two lovers are tenderly obscuring their real feelings and plans from one another, a young woman, until now unnoticed and seemingly uninvolved in the whole situation, picks up an olf rifle and takes aim at Ruth's husband. The target however was a fatal mistake.

Comments from the Press:
Volker Schlondorff's film shows the sort of characters that appear in stories in glossy magazines. The original idea came from a magazine headline: Hired killers shoot industrialist — Were wife and lover responsible? Volker Schlbndorff was asked: What do you find so interesting in people like this who seem to belong to the ten-cent novel, isn't the story somewhat banal?

Schlondorff: »The plot for a film cannot be banal enough. Here we have the eternal triangle. As I see it is all a question of what variation one puts on this theme. This is what lends a film originality. I know that people are always trying to fit my films into the »art film« pigeonhole. But there are other creative experiences apart from high culture and high style in the evaluation of people. It is possible to be serious with something frivolous as well as frivolous with something serious. I believe that entertainment can set a high standard without becoming boring. Conflict with society can be carried out within the realms of the entertainment media«.