The Nasty Girl [VHS]
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Product Description

Filmmaker Michael Verhoeven (not to be confused with Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven) made one of the best films of the '80s with this bold, 1989 German production about an adolescent girl, Sonja (Lena Stolze of Verhoeven's The White Rose), who researches the history of her hometown's involvement in the Holocaust. The "nasty" of the title doesn't refer to provocative behavior on the heroine's part but rather Sonja's sudden reputation as a busybody, stirring up dirt about her neighbors' sundry crimes against humanity and being rebuffed or punished at every turn. Verhoeven makes a number of inspired, artistic leaps in portraying Sonja's story (she grows up and is a married woman before her quest is complete) as an epic myth for post-war Germany. The director draws on thrilling performance ideas from Bertolt Brecht and pursues heavy visual stylization to bring an exciting immediacy to this tale of dangerous secrets. Topping it all off is Stolze's sharp, likable, smart acting. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews:

  • Interesting
    Not the porn one would expect - but a very dirty story about very nasty people who label the girl who peels back history as 'nasty'....more info
  • I'm stunned there is no US DVD...great film
    Can it be that the only DVD edition of this is for non-US countries? I think this film is brilliant. From start to finish, it showed the impact that one person can have with determination. It is a film in my library I watch at least once a year. What a crime to not have a DVD edition!...more info
  • A comedy about town protecting a nasty secret
    Sonja (Lena Stolze) - an apparently ordinary girl - decides to research her German town's Nazi history during Hitler's reign for a school project starting from the town's archive. In the process, she discovers that her town - including prominent citizens - was heavily involved in the holocaust by the Third Reich. Almost everyone in town not only turns against her, but some even try to silence her. But, her work leads to an honorary doctorate from... neighboring Austria. Now, she not only cannot be silenced, but even ignored anymore.

    This comedy is a masterpiece study of a quite typical behavior of group to protect its interest based on these particular events. But, they could have happened at any other time in any other country ever experiencing atrocities, so practically almost everywhere. That universal dimension makes the movie really great....more info
  • a brilliant comedy about the sad truth
    A beautiful film, funny, whitty, but yet - sad. The heroine says that you have to know where you are cdoming from, so that you will also know where you are going.

    The sad truth about Germany is that it either does not want to know the sad truth about itself, and those who do know, and were sub-human nazis during WW 2, don't want us to know.

    I hope they keep naking movies like this in Germany...more info
  • Hooray For All Nasty Girls
    This film by Michael Verhoeven is about a Bavarian schoolgirls's (Sonya) quest to find out the truth behind her small village's history and involvement behind the Third Reich. The film gives a chilling depiction of how partriarchal institutions and powerful individuals in control will use any means to neutralize any seroius threats brought against them. Surprisingly enough, Nasty Girl is one of few films that depict a woman as being single-mindedly obsessed by the pursuit of the facts. This kind of discourse has always been reserved for males. Several times Sonya is almost diverted from her quest by the temptations society dangles in front of women to keep us in our places. Sonya even receives this kind of pressure from her own husband.

    Verhoeven does an excellent job of depicting the panoptical regime Sonya is objectified to in the film. There are a number of scenes in the film in which they are filmed on the back of a moving, open-top truck dressed up to resemble a family sitting room. There are no walls which hint at Sonya's lack of protection for herself and her family. Everyone is able to see into her actions without her being able to see into theirs. It is only until she is able to get hold of the facts that are intentionally being withheld from her that she is able to regain control. This allows for the walls to reappear around Sonya and her family. The Nasty Girl is a wonderfully constructed (with heavy use of many cinematic visual techniques) film that follows the journey of a highly ambitious woman towards the truth behind her homeland's history. Ironically, there is nothing "nasty" about this film...well maybe the kiss Sonya and her schoolteacher share in the film, but that's another review......more info

  • My view on "The Nasty Girl"
    "The Nasty Girl," directed by Michael Verhoven, is a German film about a woman, Sonya Rosenberger, trying to find the truth behind her Bavarian town's hidden past. Everything about Sonya's town appears pleasant and quaint as she is growing up until she begins digging into its history during the Third Reich. While Sonya's search encounters obstacle after obstacle, the town's pristine appearance fades. Secrets of clergymen ratting out Jews to the Nazis, concentration camps, and other scandals upset the townspeople when their true identities are revealed by Sonya.
    For the ordinary viewer, "The Nasty Girl" may seem more of an avant-garde film. However, there is much meaning behind the way Sonya is portrayed through her own actions and the actions of the town. Sonya feels the gaze of everyone in the town, as her every move is documented and judgments are cast against her. In his book, Ways of Seeing, John Berger's idea of the surveyed, being Sonya, and the surveyor, being the townspeople, is beautifully displayed in scenes of the film where her world and pursuit for the truth is known by all the townspeople. The film may also seem different because Sonya's character does not fit the Hollywood stereotype of a "perfect" woman. She is not typified as a tall blonde who acts in a "girlie" manner or is purely a sexual object. She has her own set of values and beliefs that she holds strongly to, even though others might try to scare or hurt her. Sonya is a rare kind of woman in film because looks like any other woman and endures many hardships like any other woman. Overall, this is a highly recommendable film for those who enjoy thinking beyond what is on the screen....more info
  • The Slightly Disheveling Girl
    Michael Verhoeven's The Nasty Girl tells a tale of a controversial woman who uncovers the Nazi related secrets of her Bavarian hometown during the course of writing a book. The heroine, Sonja (Lena Stolze), begins a quest to discover her Heimat, her patriotic love of homeland. Uncovering the anti-semitic and pro-Nazi actions of the town elders, she becomes the target of hatred by Germans who are unwilling to change their view towards their history in the Third Reich. Verhoeven aptly uses Brechtian techniques and Verfremdungseffekte to allow the viewer to focus not on the plot but on the thematic issues, namely Vergangenheitsbew?ltigung (coming to terms with the past), gender roles, and Heimat.
    The unidentifiable, young, beer drinking men in the film make frequent attempts to silence Sonja, representing the majority mindset of repressing the past so it will not be dealt with. In her struggle against this Vergangenheitsverdr?ngung, her character transcends the stereotypical "housewife" notion that her husband and peers try to pin on her. For example, she breaks typical gender notions by bringing her baby to a lecture, and her husband comments on how he must put the children to bed.
    The Nasty Girl is a stylistically powerful film, attempting to aid in the Vergangenheitbew?ltigung in Germany, but still felt in audiences elsewhere....more info
  • Womens Studies 285C Final, Professor O'Sickey
    The Nasty Girl

    This 1989 film takes up the story of a curious German girl who continually digs up the World War II dirt of a small town. What makes this story unique is the portrayal of the main character, Sonja. She strays away from the town's general ideology of "don't ask and don't tell." She speaks up when everyone else tells her to remain in silence. This comedic spin on actual events creates an accomplished film that succeeds, quite literally, in putting Sonja's home in the center of town. With all eyes on her, she ignores the social pressures of conformity as she digs where "nothing is buried" and uncovers more than anyone is willing to admit. She causes her town to look back into the past they blindly created, and shows that nothing will keep her from the truth. Its bold cinematic style helps make this film a winner....more info

  • good movie............
    This movie portrays the life of Sonja (played by Lena Stolze) who tries to dig up the past of her hometown Pfilzing. She finds that there are many things in her hometown that many want hidden. As she continues her research, she faces many obstacles. These include the disparagement of her family and peers and threats she has received from unanimous people. At the end, she publishes a book about her findings and is honored the town. However, she realizes that they only want her silence so she rebukes the people honoring her and presses on in her research to uncover the past of her hometown during the Third Reich.
    This movie was interesting in that it had a comedic twist to it. When she was restricted from information pertaining to her research, she sues for it. All in all, this was a wonderful movie....more info
  • Truthseeker
    The Nasty Girl is a powerful and effective look into the story of a German girl looking into the history of her town during the Third Reich. Told in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner and non-conventional narrative form, the film effectively portrays the resistance older community members give to her search for the truth. Particularly interesting is the combination of narration with classical dialogue sections. It is also effective at depicting the nature of how society seeks to resist changes in assessments of the past, especially guilty past. It also deals with the panopticonic way in which society attempts to check the behavior of individuals who seek to oppose the dominant order in society. It is also interesting in the way in which it presents a woman challenging a male dominated society, and the unique problems she encounters due to her challenging the patriarchy.
    The film is a powerful peace of work and although the specific subject matter refers to Germany's history, messages about the necessity to question the past, especially when other people don't want the past questioned, is applicable to all societies, particularly America. The Nasty Girl also succeeds in addressing a dark subject manner in a way that will not offend the faint of heart, yet still maintains a great deal of power, and for that it is a quite remarkable movie....more info
  • The Unobjectified Female Hero
    Although renamed "The Nasty Girl" in America to capitalize on a sexual theme that is absent from the film entirely, it is admirable that a film such as this was released in the U.S. and was actually acknowledged. Sonja is an unobjectified and determined woman who fights for the truth against all odds. In the process, her family deteriorates and her life is threatened, but she still continues on. This sort of character is usually absent from popular Hollywood cinema, unless of course the woman is wearing a bikini and sports twin machine guns. But the act of relentless fighting does not transform her into an image or object of sex, or even into a masculine figure: she remains a woman. In this film, the female role is seen through the eyes of herself, and not through the lens of a man nor through the gaze of the patriarch that surrounds her. She confronts the post-WW2 German phenomenon of Vergangenheitsbewaeltigung (inability to accept the past) as a youth who demands to know who she is and where she is from. This theme of identity questioning branches out into her role as a woman--should she stay home and do her duties as housewife, or should she fight for what she believes in? According the Sonja, the answer is obvious....more info
  • Intriguing
    While based on the true story of Anja Rosmus (renamed Sonja in the film, played by Lena Stolze), Michael Verhoeven's Nasty Girl is a daring reproduction that adroitly juxtaposes Sonja's persistent endeavors of Vergangenheitsbew?ltigung (coming to terms with the past-more specifically with the horrific events of WWII that took place in her provincial town) with the town's stubborn will for Vergangenheitsverdr?ngung (repression of that past) in order to probe the complex conflicts of the era with a distant, analytical eye. Using such Brechtian Verfremdungseffekte (distanciation devices) as fragmented and/or false projections engages the audience in dialectical thinking about the issues of the play rather than the characters. In fact, the characters are somewhat laughable and stereotypical-the strict Catholic school denying pregnant women the right to teach, Sonja's teacher who bursts through the door every time an essay opportunity arises, the cutesy grandmother shouting "follow Sonja's example" even when Sonja strays from the norm in "negative" ways. (And by "negative," I mean anything that is not reflective of the goody-two-shoes girl who only says positive things about her country.) Instead, we focus on the scenes themselves-not just the fact that Sonja's neighbors prove to be a panoptical regime, closing in on Sonja's life, leaving daunting phone messages and desecrating her home without her caring about what others thought, but more importantly the unique ways in which such scenes are depicted. For those of us who are used to cathartic, Aristotelian progress and ending of American Hollywood films, the fragmented, strange Brechtian view with an ambiguous ending might seem a weird "gyp" to the closed-minded, but will prove a refreshing outlook for those with open, analytical minds....more info
  • Wickedly Funny and Thought Provoking
    German playwright Bertolt Brecht felt that theatre should teach the audience certain moral lessons, and to this end he developed a mode of presentation frequently described as "theatre of alienation"--a type of production in which the audience is never allowed to fully indentify with the characters and their situations and is instead asked to critically observe the material and draw conclusions from it. For the most part, this is a style that works best on the stage--but director Michael Verhoeven uses it as a springboard for THE NASTY GIRL. And the result is one of the few instances in which these Brechtian concepts come successfully to the screen.

    The story is wickedly funny. A bright young lass, the daughter of two teachers, wins an essay contest--and when the next contest is announced she again decides to compete, this time with an essay on "My Hometown During The Third Reich," in which she plans to show how her small Bavarian town resisted Nazism. But few, even those regarded by the townfolk as heroes of that era, are willing to discuss it--and those that do provide conflicting information. She eventually gives up the project, but it continues to fester in the back of her mind, and some years later when she resumes her research with the idea of writing a book she discovers that the anti-Nazi heroes were not, perhaps, either anti-Nazi or heroic.

    The main thrust of the film centers upon Sonja's relentless battle against the powers that be to obtain access to documents from the Nazi era, and how civic leaders work to frustrate her--both by persistently dodging her demands for the material and by direct terrorism. But their resistance makes Sonja all the more determined, and she becomes willing to pay any personal price. Ultimately, she does arrive at some of the truth, only to discover that she has now been enshrined by civic leaders as a "hero" in an effort to silence her with praise.

    Director Michael Verhoeven presents the story in an odd mix of documentary and theatrical and realistic styles that mesh extremely well to create that famous Brechtian effect without ever actually seeming preachy. And leading actress Lena Stolze, as "the nasty girl" who accidentally drifts into the role of advocate for the truth at any price, is equally remarkable: she gives a very likeable, bemused performance that draws the viewer in even while maintaining the necessary degree of detachment the style requires. Not all viewers will appreciate the film--some will find the subject too dark, others may not be able to buy into the style--but this is a brilliant film, and you owe it a chance. Strongly recommended....more info

  • A polarizing film for some, but perfect for me...
    Ahh. Germany has changed in the early '60s, trashing the ghost of Hitler's Third Reich. But has it really? Bright young Sonja researches the history of town of Pfilzing, to tell the story of how one German town resisted Nazi fascist ideas. The more she pushes, the more she learns a sad reality - in Germany's monumental tragedy, there were few true innocents.

    The people of her town are not evil by any means, but their resistance to Sonja becomes increasingly aggressive, as they try to forgive the sins of their parents. The town is haunted by shame - shame is the central idea of the film. Pfilzing denies the past and protects the guilty. It is a town that cannot be free. And the promising student who sees this can only be called "A Nasty Girl"...

    Like Sonja herself, this film has a way of getting under many viewers skin. Many reviewers - including Roger Ebert - admire the story but feel the arty "New German Wave" edits/art design clash badly with the subject matter. I could not disagree more. The story is unusually strong, so I suppose a somber po-faced approach might have made for an equally good film. But that would take out all I loved in this movie, making it a typical Holocaust film. The creative edits, avante-garde art design and cinematography create a world full of surprise and humor. By showing the comedy of life, you see how wonderful life is. And the fact that so many German Jews are not there to see it or share it, the tragic message comes clear. This movie may dare to smile - but the shadow of history is in every frame....more info

  • Deft statement on wartime Germany by its descendants
    Lena Stolze is Sonja, the "Nasty Girl", a pint-sized girl from a small homey but slightly sinister German town. Not slightly precocious, Sonja is an iconoclast in the Luther mold. As the middle-child in a comfy family in the fictitious Berg of Pfilzing, Sonja arouses ire as a schoolgirl by her attempts to write an essay on the experiences of "Meine Heimat in der Drechsen Reich" - my hometown during the Third Reich. Already famous for winning an earlier essay, Sonja presses ahead on this new essay, interviewing townspeople and meeting resistance from every direction. (Few believe Sonja's stated intention of depicting heroic commoners resisting the Nazi regime). Not ready to give way when her essay fails to materialize, Sonja turns her energies to writing a book, and resistance becomes more heated. Friends turn away from her, town fixtures turn on her, her family becomes embattled (her parent's house is bombed). Worse, just getting the documentary evidence proves virtually impossible, since those who run the town's archives want to avoid scrutiny on themselves. Through luck and pluck (she tricks an unwitting substitute archivist into letting her access the records, then sneaks them out of the library with the mail), Sonja manages to uncover the proof that implicates various respected citizens, which only gets her into more trouble.

    "Nasty" is a peerless gem of a film. Michael Verhoeven (not the "Showgirls" guy) crafts a movie that aims to tell different kinds of stories - and manages to pull off each one. Verhoeven allows the film a tinge of lightness that doesn't undermine the seriousness of the subject matter, but does underscore the humanity of the characters, especially Stolze's adorable Sonja. Nobody's a hero, but it doesn't take a hero to be horrified at the specter of the Holocaust. There are no villains, and the script implies a moral rot that obviously survived the war, and probably pre-dated the NASDP. (The town's prominent businessmen regularly receive preferential treatment when bidding for municipal contracts; In school, Sonja and her classmates routinely receive exam answers prior to the test; the director frequently cuts scenes of mysterious, unnamed gangs meant to represent a very active and not too clandestine neo-fascist element). The film also resembles a whodunit - with Sonja's investigation focusing on an otherwise innocuous incident (for the Nazi era, anyway) involving a Jewish merchant, two anonymous clergymen and some underwear, and a shadowy figure referred to by nickname who may or may not be the town's now deceased and universally reviled wartime mayor Zumtobel. By keeping the focus on local events, the script avoids reducing the characters to generic figures asked to account for all of Germany's domestic affairs, yet crafts a beautifully subtle statement on moral ambiguity. With a weird cinematography style (characters sometimes speak to the camera; cuts between color and black and white or sometimes shoots moving backgrounds for stationary charahcters) the film appears like some kind of documentary. But above all, the film is the story of Sonja, who remains nasty in the sense that she'll never leave you alone....more info