43 min. ZDF/Arte 2009
Vulnerability and strength — Susanne Lothar combined these two traits not only as an actor but also in her life. Her acting style has been characterized as extreme because she devoted body and soul to her craft — unconditionally. Her breakthrough role was as "Lulu" in Fran Wedekind's eponymous play, under the guidance of avant-garde director Peter Zadek. The play premiered at the Hamburger Schauspielhaus in 1987 and caused a scandal — not because Lothar spent almost five hours naked on stage, but "because she bared herself entirely," as her friend and colleague Sibbylle Canonica once said. The director Michael Haneke, with whom Lothar made three films, attests to her "aggressive energy" and perseverence: she knew what she wanted and what she could do. As a humiliated woman in Haneke's Oscar-winning film The White Ribbon — her last collaboration with him — she succeeded in bestowing her unloved character with an unlikely inner strength. Without make-up, her face was defenseless, but it was her fine craft — employing the most minimalist means — that enabled her to reveal her character's emotional injuries layer after layer by. "I'm mining my soul," she explained of her technique. Susanne Lothar's talent came from both parents: her mother Ingrid Andree became known as a stage and film actor in the 1950s, her father Hanns Lothar appeared in Hollywood productions like One, Two, Three! by Billy Wilder. She was six when her father died and so experienced the intrusiveness of media attention early on: "I was always special and always an outsider," she said. Unwilling to sacrifice her privacy, she initially resisted becoming an actor but eventually she applied in secret to Hamburger Schaulspielschule, the renown acting school, and was accepted. She soon became known for her radical energy and was cast in leading roles on Germany's most prominent stages. Her career was never based on conventional beauty but rather on her unreserved expressive power. At twenty-two she presented her unique gift for the first time on film: in Tankred Dorst's Eisenhans she plays a severely autistic girl who innocently drives men into madness — an iconic role that demonstrated Lothar's ability to transform weakness into strength. The documentary My Life was filmed two years after the death of Lothar's husband, the actor Ulrich Mühe — for almost seventeen years they had been the most prominent couple of the German film and stage universe, often working together. Shortly after receiving an Oscar for his leading role in the film The Life of Others, Mühe died of cancer at the untimely age of fifty-four. His widow died five years later, on July 21st, 2012. She was portrayed in the series My Life three years before her death.