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In the summer of 1967, journalist Katharina is visited in Munich by her French friend, Anne. They take day trips and visit cafés, acquaintances and parties. In a series of conversations, they talk about the chances for female emancipation in a male-dominated society. This essay film puts five different types of women at the center of the episodic narrative – an unmarried professional woman, a divorcee confused about her future, a career woman, a deceived wife and a “Dream Woman”. Director Ula STÖCKL said in 1968, “Women have never had so many chances to organize their lives the way they want. But first they have to learn that they can want something”. Film critic Christa MAERKER called The Cat Has Nine Lives West Germany’s “First Feminist Film”.
The first feminist film in the history of West German cinema. The film explores what the film critic Thomas SCHROEDER once commented in “the question of how women can emancipate themselves in a society dominated and managed by non-emancipated men.” Within the patriarchal society given as a system, could women know what they want? Under the situation in which women are imbued with male sexual desires, psychological and economic dependence on men, and philosophies constructed by men, how are women able to liberate themselves? As in the imaginary courtroom in the film, in which old ladies carry out the trial, if one ‘can only imagine something existing,’ would women’s independent and liberal lives under the patriarchy be something unimaginable?
Ula STÖCKL places the cat with nine lives as various women’s lives living in the patriarchal system, and takes a worrisome consideration on ‘women’s identity.’ The film presents various women lives entangled with men in many ways: Katharina, a freelancer reporter, her friend Anne, Magdalena, the wife of Stephan who Katharina is romantically involved with, and a female singer who sings the song “The Cat Has Nine Lives.” The film raises a question on women who ‘want to be flowers, the object of beauty.’ With deployment of multiple cinematic styles including jump cuts, improvisational acting, mixture between reality and imagination, location shooting, etc., this film becomes an example of a feminist film as an avantgarde piece. (Sunah KIM)
Ula STÖCKLUla STÖCKL
Ula STÖCKL was born in 1938. From 1963 to 1968, she studied at the film institute of Ulm’s design college. The Cat Has Nine Lives was her thesis film. She has been an associate lecturer, including at Berlin’s DFFB film school and was on the selection committee for the Berlinale. Since 2002 she is on the selection committee of the Venice Film Festival. Ula STÖCKL is also an associate professor at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. In 1999, Ula Stöckl was awarded the Konrad-Wolf-Preis for her lifetime achievement.