• Review: Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (2017)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Thu May 11 23:28:46 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This film tells the story of writer/journalist/
    playwright Stefan Zweig who was a German writer second
    only to Hermann Hesse in the 1920s and 1930s. The film
    is a very personal and introspective look at the man that
    may require a second or third viewing to completely
    understand. The viewer's task is made more complicated
    by subtitles camouflaged by the background. What is most
    lamentably missing is a feel for the great writer's
    writing style. Maria Schrader directs as well as
    co-writing the screenplay. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    At the end of GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL the writer/director Wes Anderson
    placed a credit that the story was "Inspired by the Writings of
    Stefan Zweig." Who is Stefan Zweig?

    Zweig was a novelist, a playwright, a political writer, a
    journalist, and a biographer. He was one of the world's best
    selling and most known writers in the 1920s and 1930s. Zweig was a
    Jew born in Vienna in 1881. His personal philosophy included that
    Europe could be united into a single country with no borders. His
    love for Europe proved not to be returned during the days of
    Fascism coming to power in Germany, Austria, and Italy. With his
    beloved Europe becoming more and more dangerous for intellectuals
    and Jews, Zweig left Austria for England, then crossed the Atlantic
    spent time in New York literary circles, and eventually resettled
    in Brazil. With the coming of World War II he despaired of his
    bright future for Europe ever working out. In 1942, with his
    beloved Europe warring on itself and descending into barbarism, he
    ended his life in suicide.

    This new biography and exploration of Zweig opens in Rio de Janeiro
    in 1936 with Zweig getting a grand royal reception. An admiring
    literary community is giving the reception for Zweig (Josef Hader).
    Most of the first half hour of the film we simply hear discussion
    by local intellectuals of Zweig's ideas and Zweig presents his own

    The film is in six chapters with not much connective tissue to
    explain how each set of circumstances came about. Zweig travels
    with his wife, but in the New York chapter he is with another woman
    and it is several minutes before the script makes clear what is
    going on. Some time shifts are also difficult to follow.

    This is a quality production and well acted, but it is dry and
    suffers from impediments that the screenplay put in the viewers'
    way. Zweig was a great man, and his fears for Europe were well-
    founded. But the film does not give a coherent picture of who the
    man was and what was he trying to do.

    Hader plays Stefan Zweig, but not in any way to engender empathy.
    His reactions seem to be wooden with only his eyes shifting.
    Viewing the film one is often let watching a piece of scenery for
    several minutes and the viewer not shown or told why.

    Zweig's primary question is how can people of so many different
    colors, religions, and cultures all get along with each other.
    Today that question seems even a flat cliche, but in truth we are
    no closer to a solution. The film rates a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale
    or 6/10. The film was released in New York City on May 12.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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