Aimee & Jaguar (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Tuna's notes in white

Aimée & Jaguar (1999) is a German film that takes place in Hitler's 1943 Berlin, and is about a lesbian Jewess activist, and her affair with the wife of a German officer. As you might imagine, the regime was not her favorite, and she was equally well thought of by them. It is based on a true story. Jaguar (Maria Schrader) relies on hiding in plain site and being absolutely fearless to get by, even working for a Nazi newspaper, but her relationship with Aimee, played by Juliane Köhler, proved her undoing.   The relationship between the two woman, and the backdrop of Berlin at a time that Germany is clearly losing the war makes for a compelling watch. In German with optional sub titles.

Scoop's notes in yellow:

This film left me a bit confused. There is a telling exchange between the lesbian lovers when the one says "I am a Jew", and the other says "How can you love me?" (The latter was a true believer). And that summed up the whole movie for me. Why did the Jewish girl fall in love with a woman who seemed to have such a lightweight conception of the world, of the Jewish people, of love? Frankly, I couldn't really see what there was to love about the wife. Physical attraction? Sure, she was pretty enough. But "love" is not just the broth of physical attraction, but also something more substantial, like good beef soup. So where's the beef?  

  • In fact, it was the wife's foolish attempt to visit her lover at a concentration camp that undoubtedly ensured the latter's death. The whole trick to survival in that society was not to be noticed. The wife's ditzy concern for her own emotional needs raised a red flag which would have caused the Nazis to think "hey, she's not only a Jew, but a lesbian as well". Not good for her future.
  • Earlier in the film, the wife was going to divorce her husband, which would have produced embarrassing public revelations about her "sisters". She just didn't seem to catch on that being different or grabbing attention wasn't the right course of action in that world.
  • The wife didn't really seem to understand war any better than she understood politics. Most of the people in the movie seemed to feel the gravity of the current war situation. While Berlin was being demolished from the air, the Allies were landing men on the coastline and the Russians were turning the tide in the East. Yet the wife seems to think of nothing but her sexual dalliances. To put it in one ugly, short word, she was a bimbo. 

The other thing that I found semi-irritating about the film was that the director didn't do a very smooth job at connecting scenes or providing details of intermediate activity between events. He leaves the viewer to fill in a lot. This wasn't an error on his part, but obviously his deliberate technique, an element of his style, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

The movie does have one very effective scene - the first sexual encounter between Aimee and Jaguar. The wife had never allowed herself to consider her latent lesbianism, and a big part of her was still fighting it. So the actress needed to convey how completely uncomfortable she was in the situation, and yet how strangely excited. The director let the actresses have plenty of freedom to establish this scene, and they did it in a way that convinced me, as good movies can sometimes do, that I was an unwelcome eavesdropper on an uncomfortable private moment. I think you have to applaud the honesty of that scene.

In general, however, I guess I was a little disappointed. I like historical/sociological dramas, and I heard so much about this highly awarded film that I thought I'd connect to it emotionally. That connection never really occurred, maybe because I just didn't "get" their love. 

My verdict: a good movie, but not as good as people said.

The real Aimee (Lilly Wust)

After the war she got married one more time - to a man. Short-lived, as you might imagine.

One of her sons converted to Judaism, and she was recognized of her contributions to the Jewish community, encompassing actions which occurred both during and after the war.

The real Jaguar (Felice Schragenheim).

Hey, didn't she play "Damone" in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"?

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1. I wasn't impressed. Most of the film seemed blurry.

  • two documentaries about the production of the movie

  • several stills of the real Aimee and Jaguar

  • info about what happened to the real characters after the movie ended


Schrader shows breasts and bush, and Johanna Wokalek, Heike Makatsch and Elizabeth Degen show breasts while being photographed for pin-up shots for the boys at the front.

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: three stars. Maltin 3/4, Ebert 3/4.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 89% positive reviews.

  • Was nominated as best picture in the German Film Awards, and for a Golden Globe as Best Foreign Movie. Not considered by the Oscars.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.5 
  • With their dollars ... it grossed less than a million dollars in the USA, which is no surprise for a German-language film. It grossed about $10 million in Germany, a minor success. (Somewhat more than the budget)
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. (Both reviewers)

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