Entries tagged with “Stefan Zweig”.


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.

We spent five out of the eight evenings of our Parisian vacation at the theater. Paris is of course a city of great tradition on this respect, with tens of options every evening and the problem for the occasional visitor is to find the good performances and then to find tickets. We tried to see plays both in larger and smaller theaters, and mix commercial with more experimental shows, drama and comedy. One common trait that I can identify from start – all five performances were extremely well acted. It may be chance or it may be a trend or a school of theater issue, but acting seems to be on the focus of French theater and to a large extent all the performances we saw relied on fine acting.

 

The first performance was an experience at one of the established comedy theaters on Champs Elysees. La Comedie des Champs Elysees is located at 15 avenue Montaigne and is directed since 1994 by Bucharest-born director Michel Fagadau. The theater itself will celebrate its centenary in 2013 and the hall is quite impressing if you survive the climbing of the three levels.

 

(video source TeleramaVidcast)

 

The performance was of Jean Anhouil’s last play Le Nombril (The Umbilicus) – the story of an egocentric aging writer who is assaulted by all his family and by his friends who try to use his money and influence. It was a nice and well paced comedy performance with a great comedian named Francis Perrin in the main role. Michel Fagadau was the director.

 

The second evening led us to a very different kind of experience, although at best quality as well. Espace Marais is one of the several theaters in Paris who continue the tradition and the name of the commediens du roi at the Theatre du Marais founded in 1634. Located at the extremity of the Marais district close to Place de la Bastille, the 80 seats hall hosts nowadays two companies with impressing repertories.  It’s a small theater, the director is also selling tickets and there were no more than 15 people in the small theater, but it was again a good performance.

 

The company of Sissia Buggy was in charge with the performance that evening, and they played with respect and sensitivity an adaptation of the novella The Chess Player by Stefan Zweig – a study in sanity and madness under a repressive regime.

 

The next theater event was exaggerated by our friends in Paris. Despite living a couple of kilometers from Le Theatre de la Huchette they had never seen the legendary performances of Ionesco’s plays, on the repertory for more than 50 years. To our surprise the theater was full to the last seat, with the combination of tourists (it is located in the heart of the Cartier Latin) and the high-school students (for which Ionesco is a subject in the French literature program) making most if not all the audience.

 

(video source cap24paris)


La Cantatrice Chauve which we saw that evening keeps the original direction of Nicolas Bataille. 17000 performances were acted since the 50s, generations of actors took over and passed the torch to other generations and Ionesco’s line still sound as absurd, as comical, as fresh and sharp as at the night of the premiere.

 

Our next theater experience in Paris took place at the theater that inherited the Theatre de Marais name on rue Volta.

source http://www.theatre-du-marais.com/theatre-du-marais-programmation--FRANCAIS,m,210

 

Russian authors seem to be one of the preferences of this troupe and the performance of the evening was an adaptation after Anton Tchekhov’s stories titled Sourpriz Kakoi! Director Delphine Piard understood well the mix of sarcasm and tenderness of Tchekhov towards his characters and what resulted was an excellent comedy evening. Acting was against perfect with a young actress named Sophie Staub shining even more than her two colleagues.

 

We did not have any booking for the last evening, so we decided at the last moment to go to Le Theatre du Splendid located on rue Faubourg Saint Martin, an area that looks more like a banlieu although it is not that remotely located from the center of Paris.

 

(video source camilleazzoug)

The play we saw that night was Mission Florimont, kind of  Monty Pyton medieval comedy a la francaise – taken over at this more peripheral theater from a successful run at Theatre Tristan Bernard. It was probably the one performance we could have given up, yet the theater was full on a Friday evening and the attendance (many of them young) was enjoying the show and the genre, so we ended by entering the atmosphere having a good time as well.