“Why is Rosa Luxemburg still important today?” asks British journalist and filmmaker Paul Mason in the three episodic films he has produced for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation to mark the 150th anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg’s birth. Reform or Revolution (I), Imperialism and War (II) and Order Reigns in Berlin (III) are the themes Mason tackles to show us why Rosa’s ideas and thinking have lost none of their relevance.
Cast: Josephine Rogers as Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Mason (Narrator), Dana Mills (author, Rosa Luxemburg: Critical Lives)
Credits: Paul Mason, writer and director; Theopi Skarlatos, producer; Dorit Riethmüller for Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung; Louis Hollis, Mathilde Babo, Lukasz Jan Konopa, Elena Massa, Jon A Juárez, cameras; Exarcheia, post-production/animation; shot on location and at Camberwell Studios, London.
Archive and stills from: British Pathé, Karl Dietz Verlag, Alamy, Getty Images, Das Bundesarchiv and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. Copyright for the images of Rosa Luxemburg in prison and Leo Jogisches are not known. If you are the copyright holder please get in touch with us.
To mark the 150th anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg’s birth, the award-winning British journalist Paul Mason has produced three short documentary films about her life and ideas. In the films, Rosa Luxemburg is portrayed using a mixture of drama and animation, with British actress Josephine Rogers as Rosa Luxemburg, and scenes from her life portrayed in vivid, original animations.
The films focus on three critical moments of Luxemburg’s political life: the “revisionism debate”, over reform or revolution; her analysis of imperialism and opposition to the First World War; and her involvement in the Spartakus uprising of January 1919, after which she was murdered by Freikorps soldiers.
The production team worked remotely, under lockdown conditions in London, Berlin and Tel Aviv during the autumn/winter of 2020-2021.
The project was commissioned by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, as a follow on from their successful collaboration with Paul over the video project K is for Karl.
Episode 1 – Reform or Revolution?
Episode 2 – Imperialism and War
Rosa Luxemburg is teaching Marxism to German workers – but Marx wrote Das Kapital fifty years before, and capitalism has changed. Luxemburg writes a book predicting the downfall of imperialism, on the eve of a war in which millions will die… from her prison cell, as she attacks the hypocrisy and slaughter, even some revolutionaries think she has gone too far…
Episode 3 – Order Rules in Berlin
First Russia, then Germany. Released from her prison cell as the German empire collapses, Rosa rushes to Berlin to form the Communist Party. Amid mass protests and the formation of workers and soldiers councils, she is torn between caution and the need to push hard for a break with the old order. After a failed uprising, she is arrested and murdered. But her vision of what a workers’ revolution means lives on.
Episode 4 – Rosa Luxemburg today
Katja Kipping in conversation with Paul Mason