Entries tagged with “German cinema”.


I seldom give maximal rating to a movie. So far on, IMDB where I record my impressions about the films that I see, I have given 10 rating to only 34 films, and this list includes classical films and those that have impressed me a lot for decades. My appreciation includes a combination of what I perceive to be the artistic level of the film, its message and its ability to create emotion. Yesterday I was happy to add a movie to this list: the German film VOR DER MORGENRÖTE (which means’ Before tomorrow ‘or maybe’ Before dawn tomorrow ‘) that received the English title’ Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe ‘. In fact, I have the impression that it has not been distributed yet in the US or England, and perhaps that explains the lack of echoes so far in relation to this film, exceptional in my opinion.
source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3397160/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3397160/

If you search the Internet ‘Stefan and Lotte Zweig’ you arrive pretty quickly at the photo where the two of them lie dead, hand in hand, in their bed, in February 1942, in Petropolis, Brazil, after having committed suicide. This photo appears reconstituted for a second or two in the epilogue of the film. The prologue and the four episodes follow the path that Stefan Zweig, one of the great writers of Germany and the world, traveled between 1936 and 1942, and each of the episodes describes part of the premises of the fatal act. Having been raised and having lived in a world of words and ideas, of respect for people and culture, of the dialogue as the only acceptable solution to conflicts resolution, Stefan Zweig saw his world destroyed by the Nazi brutality and ignorance. His attempt to resist by words, using the weapons of the pacifist intellectual, was doomed to failure. We can imagine him in that winter between 1941 and 1942, desperate about the progress and temporary victories of the forces of darkness, reproaching to himself his lack of courage and ambiguous personal positions in the face of evil, the fact that he was unable or unwilling to help those in deadly danger, sharing the complex of the survivors, and lacking the resilience and power to continue to live to see the victory of Good.
The director of the film is Maria Schrader whom I met as actor in one of the main roles, the Stasi spy manipulator in the excellent ‘Deutschland 83′ series. She manages to build on screen the personality and especially the human dimension of Stefan Zweig, with his dilemmas and weaknesses, helped by Tomas Lemarquis‘s master acting. I found excellent the description of Zweig’s attitude towards his two countries: Germany, in whose language and culture he never ceased to live, and which he could not condemn even when the Nazis became rulers, and Brazil, which sheltered him and which he idealized and flattered in one of its last books, perhaps too much, maybe a little because of opportunism or maybe only as recognition for saving his life.
Cinematography is not based on words alone. The prologue and the epilogue are two outstanding pieces of cinema. In the prologue we see Zweig taking part in a banquet given in his honor in Brazil in 1936, in which he speaks in praise of Brazil as a country of the future and exults its multiculturalism and the equality of all citizens of all colors. But all participants at the reception, and even servants, without exception, are white! The epilogue is a masterpiece, shot in a single frame, with multiple planes made with a mirror. After policemen, neighbors, friends understand the tragedy, investigate, say goodbye, someone says a Jewish prayer. Then in the deserted room, enters the maid, a black woman, and she says Pater Nostrum. And she leaves, obscuring the frame. Cut.
A movie of 10/10.

Hannah Arendt ignited controversies during her life, and many of these controversies continued after her death. Margarethe von Trotta‘s filmed biography catches some of them (like the fascination that turned into a love story between the bright Jewish student and the much elder philosopher Heidegger, a Nazi sympathizer) and focuses on one specifically – Arendt’s coverage of the Eichmann trial and her relationship with fellow Jews, the Jewish state and eventually to her own Jewishness. A precipice separated Hanna Arendt’s views from the one of the Jewish Israelis. Where the survivors in Israel were seeing a process of justice in the name of the millions murdered with no justice of mercy, the American refugee was seeing a public revenge that was not judging the deeds of Eichmann but the wrongs of the system to which he belonged. Let me say that as an Israeli I have little sympathy for her lack of sympathy towards Israel, yet I believe that on the ideas plan Hannah Arendt (the film) makes a convincing case for the humanistic views of Hannah Arendt the philosopher. Unfortunately this does not turn into a good movie.

 

source www.movie-magazin.de

source www.movie-magazin.de

 

The story in the film starts with the kidnapping of Eichmann in Argentina by the agents of Mossad. The next scene introduces the American philosopher of Jewish origin and German culture learning the news and commenting them with her husband in their apartment with a view in New York. She had written a book (maybe even the ultimate book) about the roots of evil, so she must travel to Israel and watch the trial of Eichmann in order to understand and see the instantiation of evil with her own eyes. Arrived in Israel she comes to the realization that the source of the crimes of Eichmann is not in ideology and not in some malady, but in the blind allegiance to rules, and in the refusal to measure the orders he received and his own deeds on a human or moral scale. This brings her in conflict with the greatest majority of her Jewish and Israeli friends, as the gap between the perceptions is immediately obvious. Despite having lived through similar ordeals, her conclusions are different and among all she misses the tribal instinct that brings together people of the same ethnic origin. She loves people and friends, not nations and countries, not even her own.

 

(video source The Match Factory)

 

The problem with Hannah Arendt (the film) is that it is plainly and completely uninteresting film-making. It seldom exceeds the borders of respectful but boring biographical movies. There is only one memorable scene in the film, the one where the philosopher talks to her students and the staff of the university – Barbara Sukowa is passionate and convincing, succeeding to bring on her side not only the audience in the film, but also the viewers in the cinema hall. The rest is full with banal and rhetoric verbiage, a lot of stereotypes, and non-significant domestic intrigue. I wonder if Hannah Arendt, the rebellious philosopher and nonconformist character would have liked this film. I doubt it.