It is one of the last days of an exceptionally hot summer in 1956. Bertolt Brecht (Bierbichler) is about to leave his lakeside house among the tall birches in Brandenburg to return to ...
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It is one of the last days of an exceptionally hot summer in 1956. Bertolt Brecht (Bierbichler) is about to leave his lakeside house among the tall birches in Brandenburg to return to Berlin for the upcoming theater season. Most of the women in his life are there: his wife, Helene Weigel (Bleibtreu); his daughter, Barbara; his old lover Ruth Berlau; his latest flame, the actress Käthe Reichel; and sensuous Isot Kilian, whose affections and body he shares with the rebel political activist Wolfgang Harich. The friends and lovers swim, write, eat, drink, and philosophize about art, politics, and life as the Stasi lurks all the while on the sidelines, waiting. The serenity of the country on this summer day stands in marked contrast to the storm of jealousy and egomania, betrayal and dashed hopes at whose center Brecht is trapped, struggling to make plans for a future that fate will end only days later. A brilliant ensemble cast and music by John Cale complement this fascinating portrait ...Written by
Harvard Film Archive
Jan Schütte's film about Bertolt Brecht's last summer is a wonderful biopic. People who know Brecht's biography and his work recognize that the director succeeded in rendering even small details as perfect as possible. When I saw that Sepp Bierbichler plays Brecht, I thought: that's not possible. However, he surprised once more with his versatility. Monica Bleibtreu as Helene Weigel is simply incredibly good. Besides the main roles, the hitherto unknown actress Margit Rogall in the role of Brecht's collaborator Ruth Berlau is miraculous.
Besides offering a great cast, the film deals with a Brecht who has lost hope in the New Germany called DDR - or GDR in English -, but has not the force anymore to protest. So, he is widely adjusted and swallows his resignation as an inner emigration into himself. As one knows, Brecht died already with 58 from a heart attack. Partially one gets the impression that the director focused specifically Brecht-connoisseurs as audience (although this is not a necessary condition to understand the movie). For example when Ruth Berlau jumps out of her seat crying that Brecht's daughter wanted to burn her - Berlau died in the Charité Hospital in Berlin from a fire that she caused by her cigarette - and this is exactly what she is doing in the movie. Or we see Brecht very uncomfortably sitting in his chair trying to but not succeeding in writing - Brecht used to write standing on specially high desks. Shortly before Brecht leaves his summer residence in Buckow, young GDR-pioneers are reciting for him one of his famous love-poems from "Baal" - at that time, Brecht may have known that with the summer also his lifetime has gone.
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