Stefan Zweig was an Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist, and biographer. He was also considered one of the great intellectuals of his time. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was among the most popular writers in the world, with only Thomas Mann being a more popular writer in Germany. In 1936, with Hitler's rise to power, he left for South America, as did many Germans who were living in fear of what might soon happen to them.
Maria Schrader's "Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe", concentrates on Zweig's life in South America, with most of that time being in Brazil. I'm unsure whether Schrader is attempting to draw a parallel between the rise of nationalism then to today's explosion of nationalism, but it's hard to ignore the similarities, even if the situation was scarier, then. At least so far.
The film is divided into four chapters and an epilogue, each section showing Zweig (Josef Hader) moving to a new place of residence. We learn right away that many of Zweig's contemporaries and political allies want him to come out forcefully against the Nazi movement, but Zweig's position is that to do so would only be a cry to bring attention to himself, a position that baffles others, as well as myself.
In the first scene, in Buenos Aires, there is a large gathering of writers and other intellectuals discussing the role of writers in the current political climate. A group of reporters interviews Zweig and all of them are frustrated by Zweig's reluctance to condemn the National Socialist movement. This strategy of Zweig's is never fleshed out in a way to make it believable at any level. It's difficult to understand if the point of the filmmaker is that it's not explained in more depth because it's a ridiculous stance.
Throughout the rest of the story, we watch Zweig go from one event to another that honors him. Zweig is unimpressed with the attention. It's like he is a celebrity on a non-stop tour to promote his work, when he would rather be anywhere else. It's almost astounding how little happens in his travels and in the film. Considering the subject matter and the point in history, that there is no tension or conflict is remarkable. I was very happy to say farewell to this bore-fest when it mercifully ended. There is no discernible point to any of it and when you combine that with zero excitement, you are left with nothing. It is nice looking in a few scenes. If that's enough for you, buy a ticket for it. Otherwise, don't bother.
|Movie title||Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe|
|Summary||A blander-than-bland look back at a prominent German writer in the 1930s. It's hard to imagine less happening in 106 minutes.|