Der Blaue Engel is one of the masterpieces of the early sound era, notable in using sound to enhance atmosphere and establish characterization. Germany in 1930 was in desperate economic turmoil from reparations following World War I, and the film mirrors the bleak, unhappy view of the future common in German society at that time. The story is a superb portrait of cruel, obsessive love and the unrelenting degradation that ensues. Director Josef Von Sternberg skillfully paces the film so that the descent of the Professor (Emil Jannings) is both believable and understandable. Indeed, it is clear that the camera adores Lola (Marlene Dietrich) every bit as much as does the professor. The film made an international star of Dietrich, and she is matched in performance by Jannings, in what is perhaps his best-remembered screen role. The film also launched the song "Falling in Love Again,"which, like the film itself, has amply stood the test of time.