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|Index||33 reviews in total|
I read the book several years ago, and didn't remember much of it,
beyond being fascinated by the psychological-philosophical explorations
of the legendary characters and intrigued by the migraine issues that
Nietszche and Breuer attempt to solve. But the book is deeply
intellectual, and it was difficult to imagine it translated to the
screen. Unfortunately, the director's interpretation falls very limp
indeed, despite valiant attempts by a cast of worthy actors.
Melodrama substitutes in most scenes for subtlety and quiet depth. Two-dimensional beauty in the female characters substitutes for the much harder to convey inner beauty.
I found the heavy-handed artificial accents maintained by all to be especially distracting, if not constantly irritating -- the thick German/Austrian/Russian accents were like bad scenery pulling the focus from any authentic expression of the characters. The wisdom of Nietszche is disappointingly obscured in this mediocre effort.
"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
The prerequisite for making such a film is a complete ignorance of Nietzche's work and personality, psychoanalytical techniques and Vienna's history. Take a well-know genius you have not read, describe him as demented, include crazy physicians to cure him, a couple of somewhat good looking women, have his role played by an actor with an enormous mustache, have every character speak with the strongest accent, show ridiculous dreams, include another prestigious figure who has nothing to do with the first one (Freud), mention a few words used in the genius' works, overdo everything you can, particularly music, and you are done. Audience, please stay away.
Funny how movies work... the first bloke to comment was disappointed but I thought it was absolutely wonderful. The acting of Armand Assante is brilliant and made me almost cry at one point. The other actors are all okay, I liked the crazy girl a lot, delightfully entertaining performance - but NOTHING prepared me for Mr. Assante being SO brilliant. The movie is a period piece, but it has a modern feel to it, but not in an annoying way, it was quite lovely, how they made it move very quickly, even though the subject matter is serious and intense. It was never boring even for a second. The conversations are very interesting, and I think I can say with full blown honesty here that watching this movie may have changed how I view life to some degree. Nietzsche was just such a fascinating fellow. Truly amazing film. Oh, also it's got some great dream scenes. And it was nice to see Frued as a young man, very interesting. Nietzsche was so bloody fantastic. Thank you for adapting the book. This is what independent film should be - movies with new ideas that penetrate the heart. Peace.
Knowing nothing of the book, and based solely on the DVD cover and description I expected a disappointingly shallow, titillating pseudo-intellectual romp through the fields of pretense. But the portrayal of the rare humanity of these characters as they confronted their obsessions and limitations drew me into rapt attention at the next plot development. Perhaps I'm just shallow and easily amused, but this story gave a fairly good look at a decent man, Joseph Breuer, and his struggle to really feel his humanity. This is an important story, one rarely told because how many story tellers have been through the fire of transformation to live for real? Where do you find an audience willing to sit through something they're desperately trying to avoid themselves? Maybe package it as a shallow and titillating pseudo-intellectual romp. Sure there were times when I saw through the weave of the story, for a moment I even saw Assante speaking lines rather than Nietzsche talking but for the most part this story was to me a real story of people really evolving right before our very eyes. That's not something you're going to see every day.
I rented this DVD having seen it while looking for something else. When I saw the title on the jacket I couldn't believe my eyes. I read Yalom's book about a year ago and loved it, in fact admire Yalom's work in general. (I am a clinical psychologist.) I have watched perhaps 30 minutes of this movie and have had to turn it off. I'm not sure if I can take much more. At a superficial level, the faux accents, as others have commented, are simply distracting at best and irritating and vapid at worst. The acting is dull when it should be passionate and comical when it should be serious. The portrayal of Lou Salome is simply flippant, and the brilliant Freud comes off as little more than a schoolboy. I see very little of the book's spirit conveyed thus far. I had hoped to be able to recommend this film to my students. Instead, I will refer them to the book. Imagine that.
Fine production values, a dry sense of humor throughout, literate
script, decent casting (Assante transcends his usual "heroics" and
plays a crumbling soul nicely and Cross is always workmanlike and
solid), and, slyly, the film (as the book did) finally gives Nietzsche
credit for inventing modern psychoanalysis (since Freud, et al, in the
field stole from his works outrageously and lavishly, without assigning
him the proper credit for his startlingly original insights into the
world-historical human, all too human capacity for self-deception).
A tough work for an adaptation, but this movie succeeds where something like "Freud" dismally collapsed into timid clichés.
Nietzsche would have gotten many a devilish laugh out of this work's visual craftiness.
And appreciated being treated, not as a cartoon "Overman" idol, but a struggling, flawed, tragic-comically-profound human.
"Ecce Homo", his anti-"autobiography" warned those who followed not to take him too seriously.
If this film stimulates a few people to pick up his "Joyful Wisdom" (La Gaya Scienza) or "Dawn", it will have made its honorable point.
Yalom was, in essence, giving Nietszche a posthumous brother's embrace for his loneliness and struggle and brilliance and scorn and lack of recognition while he lived.
This movie does the same.
To a guy, who, friendless and abandoned and ignored through much of his writing life, still affirmed the Universe and humanity in the words:
"Man would rather have the Void for a purpose than be void of purpose." -F.N.
Worth a viewing.
My comments on this movie have been deleted twice, which i find pretty
offending, since i am making an effort to judge this movie for other
people. Please be tolerant of other people's opinion. Obviously writing
in the spirit of Nietzsches works is not understood, so ill change my
I think this is a really bad movie for several reasons.
Subject: one should be very careful in making a movie about a philosopher that is even today not understood by the masses and amongst peers brings out passionate discussions. One thing philosophers do agree on is that Nietzsche was a great thinker. So making a movie about his life, which obviously includes his 'ideas' is a thing one should be extremely careful with, or preferably, don't do at all. Wisdom starts with knowing what you don't know. One might think this is not a review of the movie itself, but the movie is not about an imaginary character, it is about the life of someone who actually lived and had/has great influence on the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow. If someone tells a story about a tomato, i can express my thoughts about the story itself, but also about the chosen subject, the tomato. There is a responsibility for producers when they make a movie about actual facts. Specially in a case like this and this responsibility was not taken.
Screenplay: One of the first things i noticed were the ridiculous accents. Why? It distracts from what it should be about; Nietzsche and the truths he found. It doesn't help putting things in a right geographical perspective or time! Come on, make it proper English or better yet; German! Even Mel Gibson got that part right... letting his characters speak some gibberish Aramaic in the Passion.
Secondly, it is well over-acted.
3d, Assante is not an actor to depict Nietzsche. Bad casting.
4th, facts are way off.
And so on. Its a waste of celluloid.
WHEN NIETZSCHE WEPT gives us an insight into the beginnings of
Psychology and particularly the Treatment of Talking as begun not by
Sigmund Freud, but instead by the brilliant yet troubled mind of
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the Viennese physician Dr. Josef
Breuer. Pinchas Perry adapted the novel by the same name by Irvin D.
Yalom and also directs this period piece. The film works on many
levels: the flavor of the period is well captured (though Vienna in the
film is Bulgarian locations!), the ideas are fresh to some, and the
pacing and use of moments of fine classical music tidbits add flavor.
If only more attention had been paid to the theories discussed...
1872 is the time and two men are haunted by demons, and the 'demons' happen to be failed love affairs with famous women. Dr. Josef Breuer (Ben Cross) is a famous physician but is obsessed with an hysterical young woman Bertha (Michal Yannai). Another beautiful lady enters Breuer's world in the form of Lou Salome (Katheryn Winnick) who has had a brief affair with the philosopher Nietzsche (Arman Assante) and feels he needs Breuer's help with his 'Talk Therapy'. The two men meet, share fears, and agree to a mutually beneficial relationship: Breuer will help Nietzsche with his migraines (due to his obsession with Lou Salome) and Nietzsche will share his philosophical approach to the world to help Breuer with is recurring nightmares. The resulting experience is an introduction to psychoanalysis as a treatment, a treatment that fascinates the young Freud (Jamie Elman).
The action is a bit heavy on the dream and surreal sequences instead of being a learned exploration of a very important period of history. The quality of acting is variable: Assante seems the only one to wholly grasp his role as Nietzsche. The film has many flaws but in the end it is an interesting introduction to the history of an important movement in medicine. It takes patience to watch but it is well worth the viewer's time. Grady Harp
I just wonder how many people are going to be tuned in to seeking out
and sitting through a film all about psychoanalysis, detailing very
briefly the more desperate incidences in the lives of some of the most
brilliant minds ever to have graced Earth. My heart hopes as many as
possible but my mind tells me not many will bother, and given this
that's quite a shame. The film is a concentrated study on illness and
the effects of illness but the said sickness is more affiliated to love
or problems of a psychological kind. The events, no matter how
fabricated over history, are still compelling and the film just about
works as a drama or a study of an individual's actions given their
emotions that run on a dizzying high.
The film follows Josef Breuer (Cross) and Friedrich Nietzsche (Assante) who meet and attempt to help one another. The setting is 1870s Vienna in Austria at a time when some of the most brilliant minds ever would congregate to pioneer the study of psychoanalysis; love as an illness and what makes us who we are through these events. On this occasion, Nietzsche has fallen for a woman and she is Lou Salome (Winnick). This acts as the catalyst for him to seek help from Breuer, an experienced and responsible doctor who has battled his own demons in the past to do with one of his parents' early death. Nietzsche at first seeks to run from his problem, thinking escaping to Switzerland will compensate for the pain following the rejection of marriage.
But this isn't the end of it. There is no surprise that a film dealing with psychoanalysis, and containing Sigmund Freud, has a few mind games up its sleeve. The film is uncannily seductive in its general atmosphere and quite humbling on other occasions. Breuer is good friends with Sigmund Freud himself (Elman) and they both seem overly concerned with Nietzsche which propels them into at least pretending one of them needs help from Nietzsche in return.
In order to achieve this, Breuer assumes the stance that he himself is falling in love with one of his patients and requests the help from Nietzsche in return he help him get over his break up. There's a lot of psychology going on here and a lot of scenes and content that deals with mental health. Nietzsche undergoes perhaps the more interesting study of the characters because his is the more dramatic, slipping into despair and depression after initially trying to combat the break up with 'remedy' from prostitution and, like I mentioned, fleeing entirely.
The point When Nietzsche Wept has going for it the whole time is the age of these primary characters. This is not a (another?) mere look at young people in contemporary America or wherever trying to get over relationships or trying to instigate one so that they may have sex, this is a thoughtful and interesting look at people of an older age dealing with real issues that at the time, remained as scary and as ambiguous as you could possibly imagine. The frightening thing that should remain at the back of the viewer's mind is 'what if you were very ill, but you did not know of the illness you have?' Twinned with this, what if you did not know of the treatment and the pain or whatever would simply not disappear? Nowadays, we're all fine with our doctors and so forth and our teen sex comedies that act as an escapist or humoured look at coming of age or love or sex or whatever but When Nietzsche Wept is a pit stop; a look back at times past.
The film is a grand display of surrealism, dreams often beginning naturally enough before descending into chaos. We the audience ask the question of what is going on and just when it seems the impossible or the downright obscure is about to happen, our questions are answered. The film is a study into the great minds that pioneered certain theory but it's a look at their own struggles; their own struggles that helped shape an understanding in the first place. The film is a study of a delicate mentality as expressed by those of a brilliant natural intelligence.
Whether it's the bizarre manner in which Breuer refers to Freud as 'Siggy' or the odd scenes to do with diegetic classical music complete with orchestra that Nietzsche himself composes to the bemusement of those around him, the film remains an interesting look at a subject that is being dealt with head on rather than in a metaphorical or dramatic way, much like Hitchcock and Lynch have done in the past. But don't be fooled for it isn't a documentary and it does retain a fair amount of drama throughout. It may not be as good a metaphorical study but it remains interesting and thought-provoking.
Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud did work together and they did
collaborate on a book about Anna O, who was most likely Bertha. Lou
Salome did have relationships with Nietzsche and Freud and many others.
All of these things are true.
But, Breuer did not treat Nietzsche. That is in the author's (Irvin D. Yalom) imagination, and what a great imagination it was. The story makes a super philosopher seem human, with frailties that we all suffer. It also makes for an interesting story of how psychoanalysis came about. I can imagine that it really did develop this way as Breuer and Feud discovered what worked and what didn't. We see free association or "chimney sweeping" as Bertha called it, we certainly see transference, and much more as the discipline developed.
Ben Cross was excellent, Armand Assante gave the best performance I have ever seen from him, Jamie Elman let us see Feud as a young man, Katheryn Winnick certainly makes me want to see her again, and Michal Yannai was delightful.
A great period piece that will delight all who care about philosophy and psychology.
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