An intimate portrait of Brecht's final days, set around tranquil surroundings which stand in contrast with the passionate emotions of the assorted characters (jealousy, betrayal, petty spite).
It is an absorbing study, examining in subtle detail Brecht's relationships, the deep love (and hate) he seemed to inspire from the women in his life, as well as portraying the often casual cruelty with which he treated them, i.e. he suddenly talks to his loyal 'helper' Elisabeth Hauptmann about his work after having studiously ignored her for a week. I found it interesting how the various women in his life were often irresistibly drawn to each other (unspoken) despite their open hostilities, i.e the alcoholic Ruth and the self-effacing Elisabeth.
The writer and director cleverly toyed with the relationship between the ageing Brecht, a man who fled the US before he could be indicted by MacCarthy , and Wolfgang Harich, the young dissident for whom the Stasi lie in wait in the woods.
The film is the story of a great writer and flawed individual. It is about the smallness of greatness. Brecht, who wrote about the difficulty of being a good man in a bad world, is non-committal, the showcase man of letters in Communist GDR, as opposed to Harich's political idealist. As Brecht warns Harich at the end (with almost prophetic hindsight), the younger man's arrest would symbolise 'his bad conscience'. Sadly, it is a prophecy that does not take long to be fulfilled
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