The European Union has inched closer to America — at least regarding their stance on smoking. The European Parliament is banning menthol and other flavored cigarettes. They’re also setting their sights on “slim” cigarettes, and hoping to regulate e-cigarettes. It’s a bold move for a continent populated with the world’s biggest smokers and drinkers. We know smoking is detrimental to our health, but the movies often make it seem worldly or bohemian — especially European cinema, where characters are eternally shrouded in smoke. But a cigarette between the lips is often present for more than just show. Sometimes it’s a prop that reveals more about the personality of a character or it becomes a pivotal part of the story. Join us after the jump for ten of the greatest smoking scenes in European film.
Few film icons can wield a cigarette like Marlene Dietrich. The German actress smoldered on the big screen, an ever-present plume of smoke circling her like a halo. She made cigarettes seem exotic and sexy, and her brazen personality and razor-sharp wit was equally intoxicating. It’s interesting to note that Dietrich also held her cigarettes differently than most women in the movies, often gripping them the way men did. In The Blue Angel, the first German sound film, Dietrich played a sultry cabaret performer who uses smoking to tease and taunt a lovesick professor. As their relationship develops, his dignity and self-worth crumbles — witnessed in a scene where Dietrich casually drops her cigarettes under the table, forcing him to crawl and collect them.