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Wittgenstein (1993) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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Director:
Writers:
Ken Butler (writer)
Terry Eagleton (writer)
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Contact:
View company contact information for Wittgenstein on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 September 1993 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated... See more » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
A flawed experiment in combining elements of theatre, performance art and cinema with the life of the esteemed academic See more (8 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)
Clancy Chassay ... Young Wittgenstein

Jill Balcon ... Leopoldine Wittgenstein
Sally Dexter ... Hermine Wittgenstein
Gina Marsh ... Gretyl Wittgenstein
Vanya Del Borgo ... Helene Wittgenstein
Ben Scantlebury ... Hans Wittgenstein
Howard Sooley ... Kurt Wittgenstein
David Radzinowicz ... Rudolf Wittgenstein
Jan Latham-Koenig ... Paul Wittgenstein
Tony Peake ... Tutor
Michelle Wade ... Tutor
Tanya Wade ... Tutor
Roger Cook ... Tutor
Anna Campeau ... Tutor
Mike O'Pray ... Tutor
Nabil Shaban ... Martian

Karl Johnson ... Ludwig Wittgenstein

Michael Gough ... Bertrand Russell

Tilda Swinton ... Lady Ottoline Morrell
Donald McInnes ... Hairdresser
Hussein McGraw
Christopher Hughes (as Chris Hughes)
Budge Tremlett
Aisling Magill ... Schoolgirl
Perry Kadir
John Quentin ... Maynard Keynes
Kevin Collins ... Johnny
Lynn Seymour ... Lydia Lopokova
Ashley Russell ... Student
Stuart Bennett
David Mansell ... Student
Steven Downes ... Student
Peter Fillingham ... Student
Fayez Samara ... Student
Samantha Cones
Kate Temple
Sarah Graham
Layla Alexander Garrett ... Sophie Janovskaya
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Directed by
Derek Jarman 
 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ken Butler  writer
Terry Eagleton  writer
Derek Jarman  writer

Produced by
Tariq Ali .... producer
Takashi Asai .... executive producer
Ben Gibson .... executive producer
Eliza Mellor .... executive producer in charge of production
 
Original Music by
Jan Latham-Koenig 
 
Cinematography by
James Welland 
 
Film Editing by
Budge Tremlett 
 
Art Direction by
Annie La Paz 
 
Costume Design by
Sandy Powell 
 
Makeup Department
Morag Ross .... hair stylist
Morag Ross .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Anna Campeau .... production manager
Gina Marsh .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Richard Hewitt .... second assistant director
Davina Nicholson .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Kevin Rowe .... art department
 
Sound Department
Toby Calder .... sound editor
Paul Carr .... dubbing mixer
George Richards .... sound
 
Other crew
Ken Butler .... associate director
Stephen Masters .... titles designer
David Roden .... researcher
 

Production CompaniesDistributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
72 min | Sweden:75 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

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17 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
A flawed experiment in combining elements of theatre, performance art and cinema with the life of the esteemed academic, 20 March 2008
Author: Graham Greene from United Kingdom

Although there is no accounting for the audacious and experimental style in which artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman has put together this offbeat biography of the famed philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, one can't help feeling a little disappointed by the slight and unimaginative focus the film gives to the real life concerns of this great and forward thinking individual. As the previous reviewer points out, if you (much like myself) know little to nothing about the philosophical or biographical background of Wittgenstein the man, then this film really offers very little in the way of enlightenment; never giving the audience the chance to gain real insight into the character or the events of his life, save perhaps, for a few brief scenes included to prove a point. This lack of information and development is a serious problem that mars the film greatly and is a problem that can only be attributed to Jarman and the writers.

Much like his similarly themed, off-kilter biography of the artist Caravaggio (1986), Jarman here ignores the facts and instead opts for more of a personal deconstruction. As much admiration as I have for the director to break away from the usually rigid confines of biographical pictures that seem to force feed the audience an entire life in a neat and digestible two-hour course, I do not admire his way of frequently shifting focus from any real artistic or intellectual talent, onto what seem like very trivial, melodramatic examinations of sexuality. Interspersed between serious scenes of Wittgenstein trying in vain to explain his theories to the masses, or amazing sequences where reality is broken down and all sorts of bizarre images are allowed to overflow from the screen, there are irrelevant and silly sequences where Wittgenstein and his lover cuddle in a cinema or have insignificant arguments that recall a homosexual take on a Hollywood rom-com.

What we get from the film is simply Wittgenstein as a contemptuous, arrogant, petty loner who wasn't against berating the children who couldn't decipher his highly intelligent philosophies and wasn't happy unless he was dispelling all around him. Now, this may only be a half-truth, but since we never learn the full fact of the matter this cloddish rendition is the only conclusion we can make, which, for a real and important historical figure is far below standard. There is however a saving grace here, and, as ever with Jarman, it is in the visual presentation of the film. Never overly flamboyant, and never getting in the way of the story, the design of the film still bold, innovative and highly impressive. Faced with a miniscule budget, the limitations of British television and a shooting schedule of just over fifteen days, most filmmakers would have produced a film with no visual imagination whatsoever. Jarman however took that challenge and created one of the most surprising visual experiences ever filmed; and all within the confines of a London warehouse.

Of course, many will balk at the idea of using a little imagination when watching the film -- having been weaned on a combination of high-concept and MTV, I myself found it a struggle to look past the minimalism of the set design or the disconcerting contrast between picture and sound -- but if you look a little deeper, the effect of Jarman's theatrical framework gives way to a wealth of hidden details. This is a film in which the visuals capture the imagination, even if the story doesn't; creating an amazingly sensory feel similar to what Lars von Trier did with the film Dogville (2003). By the time the film is over you'll swear you saw scenes and images that never actually appeared, images that were formed purely in your imagination.

Wittgenstein (1993) demonstrates a talent for creating an outrageous atmosphere in a restrained setting and the ability to instill a feeling of longevity to the visual design that manages to outlive both the narrative and the character. Still, it could have been so much more - Jarman's self-serving and idiosyncratic storytelling approach means we can only imagine what could have been. If Jarman had restrained his need for self-assessment and put as much imagination into the script as he did with the iconography we could have been looking at a near-masterpiece. What we have instead is simply a bizarre, confused, interesting, though inconsistent experiment that leaves the viewer with some seriously mixed feelings.

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