Doomed Beauty: One Woman’s Face as a Mirror of 20th Century History

Experience a docudrama that was scripted not by a writer, but by European wartime and post-war history. See a meteoric rise and abysmal fall, set against the glamour of early cinema stardom, the expansion of the Third Reich, and the desolation of exile. Learn the story of Lída Baarová, the 1920s and 1930s Czechoslovak film diva, the woman who bewitched Nazi Germany, in the latest film by the international award-winning director Helena TřeštíkováZKÁZA KRÁSOU (DOOMED BEAUTY)!

After a series of documentaries set in the present time and focusing on family relationships (Private Universe), the vicious cycle of drug addiction (Katka), the struggle to break out of addiction, poverty and homelessness (Mallory) or life in jail (René), the internationally recognized Czech director Helena Třeštíková has now embarked on an exploration of more remote history in her most recent film DOOMED BEAUTY. Working with archive materials and first-hand interviews, the filmmaker reconstructs the story of the biggest interwar Central European film star, Lída Baarová.

Together with her long-time collaborator, director and editor Jakub Hejna, Třeštíková pieces together the drama of Baarová’s life, which itself seems like something from a movie. While Třeštíková is known for working with the time-lapse method, allowing audiences the opportunity to follow her protagonists for periods of up to several decades, DOOMED BEAUTY confronts the viewer with a story of classical dimensions. It begins with a young Czechoslovak girl whose stunning beauty catapults her to fame among the most successful screen actors of Central Europe at the time of a film industry boom. The ease with which she conquers audiences then brings her to the attention of the Nazi elite, whose ideology and power is just beginning to spread across the continent.

After a few heady years of success, when apart from landing major German film roles, Baarová became the mistress of Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Reich’s propaganda department, she was expelled from Germany in 1939. Returning briefly to her occupied homeland, she was widely regarded as a collaborator and enemy of the nation. After several sojourns abroad, Baarová was returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 by US troops. From pre-war fame she fell to the very bottom, and was imprisoned for a year and a half. A further blow was the suicide of her sister and the death of her mother soon afterwards, both the result of the shame of Baarová’s own pro-German past. Finally, Baarová left Czechoslovakia forever in 1948 with the advent of the Communist regime, eventually settling in Salzburg, Austria, where she spent the longest period of her life in loneliness and isolation.

In 1995, director Helena Třeštíková was one of the few people to penetrate this isolation:

“If I were to define the impression I got from her, what I found was somebody who was very much the product of the early years of cinema. Lída Baarová came into cinema at a time when it was a new medium and people had little experience of the cult of stardom and such overwhelming celebrity. Everything was just so much bigger than anything anyone had seen up to that point. I think she was just one of the first to fall victim to a misguided self-image. She started to see herself as some untouchable goddess.”

Allow yourself to be bewitched by the great documentary narrative of DOOMED BEAUTY: watch the latest film by Helena Třeštíková – the newest acquisition in the catalogue of DAFilms.com!

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