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.