|Index||8 reviews in total|
27 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
Living in oblivion, 30 June 2004
Author: marcomeyer from Switzerland
When Maria Schell retired to her parental homestead in the Austrian
alps, her once so glamorous internationally acclaimed movie star life
changed from stardom to quiet oblivion. There she occasionally met her
family - and the bailiff. Her mental health made it difficult for her
to make the difference between fiction and reality. She ordered several
expensive TV sets, chandeliers and so forth, not realizing that she was
flat broke. Generous to herself and friends alike, she spent millions
until the sale by court order of all her belongings including the
family homestead was imminent. It was her famous brother Maximilian
Schell who at least wanted to save the farm and the surrounding land
for the family. The debts were so high and the compulsory auction so
near that he had to sell his beloved art paintings in order to gather
the astronomical amount of money needed to avoid the loss of his and
Maria's childhood home.
Maximilian Schell portrays this sad and obviously final episode of his beloved sister Maria's life in a very special docu-drama filled with retrospectives of her movie work. These movie clips are the bright side of her life, contrasting the real life, which was not so real to her anymore. Or was it? Maximilian reflects about the meaning of life and if his sister may have retired in a sort of mental way station claiming the paradise as long as she was living and not only after she would die.
This movie actually is an insider movie, a very personal treatment of a family tragedy and full of love, very soft-spoken. The warm and close relationship between brother and sister, both famous actors, is touching without being kitschy. It is knowingly heart-moving, though. The movie's red line is the short distance Maria is forced to walk from the living house to the "hut" where it all began, where her mother gave birth to her and her siblings. Maximilian urges her to walk this way every day and when she would finally reach the hut, everything would be OK. Throughout the movie we observe Maria Schell advancing step by step until she finally stays in front of a stove trying to make fire. She does not notice that she loses control over the fire. All is burning down.
Viewers expecting star chitchat will be disappointed as much as those tabloid story hungry masses who played the shocked ones when it turned out that the story of Maria Schell in poverty and mentally demented was true. Maximilian Schell's movie does not show this. It is a documentary, cleverly combined with quite obviously acted scenes. A set up, maybe the last camera, light, action for his sister. The film ends with Oliver's Theme, composed by Oliver Schell. It is a merry melody instantly returning the thoughtful viewers back to the really real life.
16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Pure Poetry, 11 August 2003
Author: Robbie from Cologne, Germany
One of the hardest tasks in filming any plot is to keep dignity when it
comes to taboo subjects.
One of those is "getting old". This film offers a close perspective to the come-into-years Maria Schell. Old-time-stories alternate with the difficulty of coping with everyday problems. After all, the film is about anyone...it is our own future. The film's words and pictures are poetry of a very special kind. Its tenderness - which only a brother can film - is without compare: 10!
12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A brilliant, wonderful film!, 11 June 2003
Author: rainbow-10 from Los Angeles, CA
Maximilian Schell does a superb job with this beautiful documentary about his sister, the renowned actress Maria Schell. Very personal and touching yet with a universal appeal. Brilliant and well-worth a watch! You will love this film.
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Unique and Deeply Moving Documentary Portrait of Maria Schell by Her Brother, 9 November 2009
Author: robert-temple-1 from United Kingdom
I have never seen a documentary quite like this one before. It is intensely personal and intimate, full of love, exasperation, devotion, despair, and hope, all mixed up together. In short, it is a portrait of the actress, the late Maria Schell, made in 2002, three years before she died at the age of 79. Naturally, there are many film clips of Maria's amazing acting career, intelligently edited together as part of the narrative of her life, and illustrating from fiction various real aspects of her story. Maria Schell was one of the most glorious presences ever seen on the screen, and had a personality and radiant smile so like an angel that it were as if a piece of Heaven had dropped down by accident, with her sitting on it, and she had to make the best of her exile on earth. In this respect she resembles only a tiny number of actresses in the history of the cinema, such as Hayley Mills and Margaret O'Brien, who had similar angelic qualities as children, and in the case of Hayley Mills, still does as an adult, both off-screen and on. (I met Margaret O'Brien a few times long ago, but as she was then so extremely shy and introverted, I was never able to get her to speak more than a few words, so cannot honestly say what she is really like, other than that she is very nice and extraordinarily quiet.) For reasons never explained in this film, Maria Schell entered a strange mental state because of some very severe brain damage late in life. Whether this was because she had a stroke or as a result of her abortive suicide attempt (caused by a disappointment in love, which is discussed in the film) we are not told. We see a great deal of her sitting up in bed with a beatific expression on her face, as if she were a saint who had forgotten her own name, and somehow mistakenly believed that she might once have been the actress Maria Schell. She speaks coherently and intelligently within certain limits, and has perfect recall of many past events. She watches her own movies over and over again in order to reclaim her memories, and says on film that by doing so she is able to recall everything to do with the shooting of every scene minutely. Her constant watching of herself thus seems less an exercise in vanity than an attempt to remember who she is and was. Her erratic behaviour is shown by the fact that she has ordered eleven Bang & Olufsen television sets to watch herself on, and often has several of them turned on at once. She has no sense of reality or responsibility concerning everyday life anymore, and she phones up stores and orders gigantic crystal chandeliers (two at once!), despite living in a small cottage, and other crazy things, and the people she phones do not realize she is out of touch with reality, so they put the orders through. She eventually goes bankrupt as a result of wild, truly insane, spending, on things she cannot even use, and her brother Maximilian only saves her from having all of her possessions sold at auction by bailiffs at the last minute. To call the situation extremely harrowing is an understatement. Poor Maximilian Schell! He adored his sister and appreciated her perhaps better than anyone, and yet in her damaged mental state she nearly drove him crazy. But how could he be cross with her when she sat up in bed (in between ordering chandeliers) with the face, glowing eyes, and wan smile of an aged angel? Dealing with Maria in that condition was a bit like trying to discipline a beloved dog who has just eaten the supper off the dining table, because how can you explain to the dog the significance of what he has done, the sanctity of the dining table, etc.? One way dogs are disciplined to stop them 'doing their business' on the carpet is you take them by the collar and push their nose down next to the droppings and say 'Bad!' very forcefully several times, and they generally get the message. That is called house-training. But how can you house-train a brain-damaged angel and stop her buying pairs of crystal chandeliers over the telephone as soon as you leave her house? Push her nose into a chandelier? How gruelling it is to watch Maria slowly try to walk a short distance along a path (in the Austrian mountains, where she lived), in good weather and in snow, marking her progress each time with a stick and trying to learn how to walk again. Each yard gained is a triumph. Anyone who has ever been really ill, even temporarily, knows about such things, and how an inch gained at enormous effort is really a mile. At one point, Maria falls face down in the snow and lies there as if she were in Heaven, still beatific in her expression. This film is a film of adoration and testimony by Maria's nearest and dearest, her totally devoted and adoring brother, who has the advantage of having spent a lifetime in films and knew how to make the film. It is an amazing achievement, very painful to watch, but also uplifting in the awareness we derive of the power of the highest form of sibling love to ennoble and transcend, to soar above the limits, and to achieve the angelic level, where Maria Schell's true existence seems always to have been and belonged. Of Maria Schell, one is tempted to say with awe: 'She came and lived amongst us for a time, and then was gone.'
7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A wonderful docmentary, 11 October 2006
Author: harry-404 from United States
A most affecting film by actor and director Maximilian Schell of his extremely talented and beautiful sister, Maria. Contains a large number of wonderful clips from her German and American films with actors such as Gary Cooper (her favorite leading man), Marlon Brando, Oscar Werner, and others. These excerpts clearly demonstrate why Maria Schell was such an internationally acclaimed actress, especially during the period from the 1940s to the 1960s. Interwoven throughout the film are scenes from her childhood including those from private home movies. Most revealing and perhaps of most interest are scenes of her in the last years of her life in which she comments on important influences on her life and the many struggles she endured.
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
This is a strange little film!, 23 January 2007
Author: Benoît A. Racine (benoit-3) from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
But wonderful nonetheless. Max Schell recreates, with the help of many family members, scenes from his sister Maria's last days. (The film if from 2002 and Maria died in 2005.) The famous movie star is living on the family homestead in Austria in a lucid but irresponsible state, following a stroke. Scenes of her daily life are interspersed with medical commentaries, a discussion of her financial problems and film excerpts from her long list of international hits, films she keeps watching on the many television sets installed in her bedroom. I suspect some of the scenes are reenactments and recreations, some of them consciously involving Maria Schell herself. If that is the case, this is the last instance of Maria Schell's acting and one of the very few DVDs featuring her work on this side of the Atlantic. Because it is a very sad fact that very few of her films (in English, French, Italian or German) are available in that format today. As this documentary is already three years old and has just made it to DVD, there is little hope this situation will ever change. But you never know...
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Max sells his Rothko, 31 July 2008
Author: st-shot from United States
This semi-staged documentary about the one time international movie
star Maria Schell is mostly interesting for brother's Max Schell's
gentle manipulation of his dementia challenged sister and his staged
scenes using doubles. The long retired Maria living in the old family
homestead amid the breathtaking Alps is in danger of losing it because
of her diminished capacity which results in binge spending (eleven
television sets) and gift giving (she buys someone a horse drawn
hearse). Max attempts to get his sister physically if not mentally
better. When he finds out about her dire financial straights he sells a
Mark Rothko painting for millions and holds onto the house. As this
unfolds Max documents and stages a biography on her life.
Whether it's her memory or her brother's inability to ask the tough questions this bio reveals little about Schell whose watery blue eyes remain youthful even in dotage. There's plenty of archival film clips but the addled Maria can only add so much to the conversation at the gentle urgings of her brother. The scenes involving her attempts to physically strengthen herself are mostly the work of stand ins with one exception that has "old trouper" Maria lying face down in the snow. With sleight of hand and Maria's diminished capacity Schell never really balances his documentary enough to make it revealing or coherent as a whole. He further obfuscates matters with an inexplicable conflagration staged at film's end, making things even murkier in this bio that says more about the ravages of age than Maria.
Maria Schell---at the end, 17 August 2012
Author: filmtherapy from United States
Maria Schell a famous Austrian actress is filmed at the age of 75
having suffered possibly a stroke living in her ancestral home.
This is a semi staged documentary highlighting problems in the last years of her life--her mental dementia foremost--but also her being broke and spending her time ordering expensive items advertised on television---she has 11 television sets on which at least according to the documentary she watches her old movies.
Her brother apparently wealthy and also a famous actor steps in and manages her life as creditors close in.
There are lots of film clips.
This is clearly a movie for fans of the actress. I had never heard of her and her very limited mental abilities allow nothing but the shallowest conversation. But it is still touching and sad.
Don't Recommend unless you know this actress
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