Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Summer Lightning is directed by Volker Schlondorff who has won an international reputation with films like Young Torless and The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, and it stars his wife, Margarethe von Trotta, who also co-scripted the film with her husband.
Elizabeth, seeking an escape from the frustrations of the life of a housewife, obtains a divorce from her husband, but is refused custody of their five-year-old child. In order to make herself self-reliant in a world dominated by the male, she seeks employment and new friends, but her search is in vain. Her dream of liberation is frustrated by the fact that her only training seems to have been built around her domestic role. She is forced to take any job that offers—as a hostess at a fair, as a fur salesgirl, and as a typist. Her only comfort comes in the fulfilment of a childhood dream—she studies tap-dancing and singing 'like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers', but she has left it too late. Success lies in youth, and she is thirty. Her attempts to gain access to her child are failures, and she seems to have nowhere to turn.
Schoendorff's film expresses a real understanding of and concern for the contemporary woman's urgent desire for emancipation, and it finds no easy solutions.