Entries tagged with “Maria Schrader”.


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.

Once, half a life ago, I stood in front of the Brandenburg Tor on Eastern side of the wall. The year was 1980 and I was visiting East Berlin and the DDR, one my two only trips in ‘friendly socialist’ countries that I was allowed while I lived in Communist Romania. The local guide preached us about being at the border between the ‘new’ socialist world and the capitalist hell that was starting behind the wall. It was maybe 100 meters far away, and a different universe. The same evening, at the hotel, the same guide showed us how to switch the TV set to the West Berlin stations. It was then that I first saw the Rolling Stones in concert, live, they were on tour in West Berlin (‘the hell’). Everybody seemed to know that they were living a lie but the power of the Stasi secret police was too frightening, and most people were afraid to speak up. Now, this interesting TV series brings back some of the aspects of the last decade of the Cold War, in the huge chess board that was divided Germany in the confrontation between the two systems.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4445154/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4445154/

 

Deutschland 83 is a spy story, it could have been written by a Le Carre, it just happens to be seen from the perspective of the other side. The eight episodes of the German series build in quite an interesting manner. At first we become familiar with the methods of recruitment of the East-German service, who were enrolling using a combination of idealism (or what was left) among the naive ones in the young generation and blackmail for such supposed crimes like homosexuality or reading forbidden books. It’s quite well written and succeeds to be in tune with some of the true histories that became public in Germany in the years after the fall of the wall. Although the final is quite well known from the history books, the last two episodes succeeded to reach a level of suspense which eventually caught up with me.

 

(video source Series Trailer MP)

 

Using documentary footage and period music helps recreate the atmosphere of the decade. The series benefit from the presence of a few wonderful actors.  is a star in Germany and her rendition of a master spy who does not hesitate to use members of her family to reach her goals, but is not free of hidden and dark secrets of herself is just stunning. Young actor  gibes a very credible performance of the rookie spy who learns the tough ways of the profession in parallel with the culture shock encountered when traveling to the west and his own process of awakening as realities slowly disperse the curtain of lies.

It’s a good and entertaining series doubled with a real documentary value for the generations that were lucky enough not to live through the times of divided Germany and Europe.