Category Archives: Films

Review: The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig

The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig is a combined study on human behavior and Austrian life. Each story examines behavior, with great detail within the boundaries of Austria’s social standards and mores.

The stories were not only period pieces, but social statements regarding ethics/morals, war and pacifism, and the living standards of the elite versus the poor. Most of the characters are depressed, stuck in a rote of life, and give off an aura of tragic lives lived. The stories are filled with melancholy and slices of drama. Drama played a major role in Austrian lives, and survival depended on roles played.

Pacifism is conveyed in the story entitled “Compulsion“. It involves an artist who receives orders to go to the Austrian consulate. His back and forth indecisiveness reflects those who do not believe in war, yet also feel they should do their duty to their country. Responsibility to his homeland is constantly questioned. Should he go, should he stay, should he go?

Religion factors into many of the stories, from Judaism to Catholicism. The individuals, family units and their beliefs are illuminated through Zweig’s writing. The treatment of Jewish individuals is written with insight and cognizance. Secular Jews were not necessarily considered part of the Austrian fold, depending on time frame and location.

The details within the stories are masterful and filled with perfection. The reader is exposed to the psychology of living in Europe during tragic and uncertain times. This psychology includes the poverty stricken individual’s struggle to survive in a world that looks upon them as less than desirable. Their very psyche is affected, in every aspect.

The bourgeois also strive to fit in. They feel somewhat above those who live in dire straights, but feel less confident than the well off elitists. They are the in between people. The elitists don’t necessarily fare better within their financial circumstances, as odd as that might sound.

Each story is a page-turner in its own right. Some of the characters have life-altering events, along with physical limitations, mindsets and philosophies, ideals, fears and struggles. The stories are not connected. Yet they share a time and place of prewar and war, and the situations that result due to war’s impact on citizens and their lives.

The stories cover the years from 1900 through 1935, with two additional stories having been unpublished until 1951 and 1987, respectively. This reader could see the author’s disintegration from society through the written prose. Zweig’s life was filled with disillusion, antiwar sentiment and a depressive state. So much is apparent in his writing, regarding his mindset, controlled by his dreary outlook on life. His work conveys much of his own thoughts, opinions and emotions, vividly. At least this reader thought so.

The film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is based on some of Zweig’s stories and novels. I can definitely see illuminations of that throughout this book. I have read two of his novels, but had not read this particular collection of works. The Post Office Girl is one of the novels, and the film is also based, in part, on this novel, according to the director, Wes Anderson (I saw it clearly).

Stefan Zweig is brilliant with his visuals, minute details, and in conveying emotional content. He was a masterful story teller, transporting this reader to Austrian life during the first three decades of the 20th century. The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig is a valuable collection of works within one book. The historical value is priceless, and I found the book to be a masterpiece.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Films, Historical Fiction, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog

Sunday Scenes: Sir Nicholas Winton

Over twenty five years ago, on That’s Life, a BBC TV show, Sir Nicholas Winton was surprised by some of the Holocaust Survivors he helped save, and their extended families. If this video does not make you teary-eyed, I have no idea what will. I have watched it numerous times since I first saw it, a few months back.

nickfam This morning, I have the privilege of a seeing the documentary film, “Nicky’s Family“. I am a member of the movie theater’s “Sneak Preview Club”, and am attending a free screening. I am already feeling emotional, knowing about Sir Nicholas Winton’s story incredible. Since first seeing the BBC video, I have researched him and have become educated as to how he saved children from concentration camps and/or possible death, in what is known as the Czech Kindertransport.

Sir Nicholas Winton was responsible for saving 669 children! Imagine… And, his humbleness kept him from revealing his actions, his immense humanitarian efforts. Nobody in his family knew about his accomplishments, until his wife found his detailed scrapbook in 1988.

It contained lists of the children, including their parents’ names, and the names and addresses of the families that took them in. By sending letters to these addresses, 80 of “Winton’s children” were found in Britain.” (Wikipedia)

For him it was a responsibility, an obligation to humankind. His actions weren’t put forth in order to gain recognition. He accomplished what he did, and that was that.

His 105th birthday is May 19, 2014!

Below are some links that will educate you regarding Sir Nicholas Winton and his story:

Nicholas Winton, Wikipedia

BBC News Premiere Re Nicholas Winton

ADL honors Nicholas Winton

Interview with Sir Nicholas Winton July 2013

Sir Nicholas Winton honored in U.S.

The Power of Good: The Nicholas Winton Story

I will most likely update this, after seeing the film.

Update: The film was extremely poignant and inspiring. Sir Nicholas Winton’s story touched millions all over the world, and encouraged them to contribute to humanity’s willingness to help others, no matter their cultural background.

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Filed under Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Uncategorized

La Grande Illusion Film Review

Last night I saw the French film La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion), directed by Jean Renoir. The film was produced in 1937, and 75 years later it has come to the big screen again, with an excellent restoration.

The film is in black and white, and is subtitled for the American audience.

Set during World War I, the themes of status and relationships runs throughout the anti-war story line of men trying to escape from their imprisonment. Both sides of war are depicted, with those who have been captured, and those who are captors, demonstrating friendship towards one another within a prison camp environment. Each side (Germans and the French, upper and working class) tries to make the best of their situation through humor, dignity and even empathy.

The film is a bit unusual in the aspect that it portrays male interactions and friendships that cross borders of cultural and social backgrounds. From those born into wealth and the elite, including a Jewish Lieutenant, and to men of the working class, the film is a metaphor for aristocracy and breeding versus the new breed of individuals.

I don’t want to go into the content of the film, as I feel that the film deserves to be viewed, and not read about.

I found La Grande Illusion (Grand Illusion) to be a satisfying and complex anti-war film (although some might find it simplistic), and recommend it to everyone.

June 24, 2012 – 4 Tamuz, 5772

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Filed under Films, Judaism

Sky Scenics, Senselessness, Shabbat,

It is time for Skywatch Friday! Visit here for more sky views from around the world.

This has been a busy week for me in regards to books.

I finished The No Potato Passover (and made three recipes from the many mouth-watering ones in the book).

I am in the midst of reading Prague: My Long Journey Home, by Charles Ota Heller. Mr. Heller graciously sent me a review copy, and I feel privileged to have received it.

Jewish Travellers in the Middle Ages sounds like an intriguing read. Hmm.

I must see the film Footnote! It comes to a local theater, soon.

Time to Come Clean on Shoah Role: French train company asked to open WWII files

The world is in a state of senseless acts, which evokes pure sadness in me, and words are inadequate in conveying my feelings. There is genocide occurring in African nations. Why? Where is the humanity? The murders of three children and a Rabbi at a Jewish school, was an act of violence that knows no logic. Three innocent children and a Rabbi. Why? It is horrific and mind-boggling to see the events unfold, not only in the Jewish community, but everywhere, worldwide. My prayers go out to all of the victims and their families, no matter where they are located.

I am also stunned and disgusted by the senseless, unfathomable killing of a young man, a 17-year old boy named Trayvon who was walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in Florida from a convenience store after buying Skittles and iced tea. He was unarmed, Black, innocent and died screaming for help before he was murdered by a man who followed him, seemingly fearing for his own (the man’s) life. My heart is filled with deep sadness over this killing, and the murderer is walking free, at the moment, due to a clause in a state law. It is difficult to comprehend the unprovoked act, and as a parent, I find it more than distressing. I can’t begin to imagine how his mother and father feel. My thoughts and prayers go out to the parents of Trayvon Martin, the rest of his family and his friends.

Please take a moment to pray for and/or think of all of the victims of senseless acts, worldwide. Shabbat Shalom.

March 23, 2012 – 29 Adar I, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

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Filed under Films, Judaism, Memoirs, Photography

Jewaicious Film Review – In Darkness

I didn’t think I could see a movie that was more compelling or intense with visuals as Schindler’s List or The Pianist. I was wrong, unfortunately.

In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland is a film that will stay with me, as both Schindler’s List and The Pianist have.

For me, it is one of those films that depicts the Holocaust without mincing words or cutting short the visual impact of the horrific situations that those who were victims experienced.

In Darkness is a true story based on Leopold Socha, who was a sewer worker in Lvov, Poland. He was a small time thief, and a conniver living during World War II, when Lvov was occupied by the Nazis.

The majority of In Darkness takes place in the sewers of Lvov, within the darkness, the stench, the vermin (rats, etc.), and within the confines of a tunnel like atmosphere. This lends to the harsh feeling of the anxiety, emotional suffocation, lack of sunlight and lack of freedom that the Jewish individuals suffered through, in the dire situation they were in.

Leopold Socha starts out by bringing the Jews in the sewers bits of food, and other assorted items, that help them to survive, for money. As the film goes on we begin to see a change in him, and see his attitude towards the Jews slowly begin to change. We see his own journey towards recognition of the Jews as people, much like himself, despite the religious differences between them. We see him begin to understand the humaneness of the situation, and see him comprehend that he holds their lives in his hands.

Once he comes to understand this concept, there is no turning back for him. As far as he was concerned, they were his Jews, and he referred to them as “my Jews”. No matter the expense or the trouble he incurred, he did it willingly, from the moment of understanding until liberation. No more money exchanged hands.

Of course, his life and his family’s life was at risk for his actions. He did jeopardize himself and his family, but felt he had no choice, it was something he had to do, because of his humanistic realizations.

The Jews spent fourteen months within the sewer system, dredged with muck and mire, constant wetness and cramped quarters. Imagine… Once they were liberated, Socha threw them a welcoming party, with cake, etc. He was delighted for them, and treated them like family.

In my opinion, the filming within the sewers fosters and intensifies the focus on his emotional and human awakening. It also magnifies and depicts the dire situation the Jews were in quite dramatically, as we see very little lightness throughout the film.

You can read about Leopold Socha at Yad Vashem. He and his wife have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

In Darkness is not a film for the weak-stomach. But, I highly recommend it. It puts a new light and face on Holocaust survival, and how rescuers played an important role in the lives of some Jews.

February 23, 2012 – 30 Sh’vat, 5772

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

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Filed under Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction

Skies and More

The images above were taken at a local park a few months back. They are submitted for Skywatch Friday. Visit Skywatch Friday to see more photos from around the world.

May all your skies bring inner illuminations of serenity. Shabbat Shalom!

My blog features this past week included:

Sunday Scenes 1/15/12

Tuesday’s World

Review – In Heaven Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery

All Aboard Water Scenes 1/1/12

Review – Man’s Search for Meaning

Other blogs I visit:

Rambling Woods

Ilana Davita

Here in HP – Take a look at Leora’s wonderful cardinal photos and other nature related captures.

Women of the Wall

Elisheva

All photography, writing, poetry, etc. is my copyright and may not be reproduced without my express written permission.

January 20, 2012 – 25 Tevet, 5772

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Filed under Book Reviews, Films, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Non-Fiction, Photography