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Theater of War (2009)

Meryl Streep , Kevin Kline , John W. Walter  |  NR |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Theater of War + Mother Courage and Her Children + Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic
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Product Details

  • Actors: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tony Kushner
  • Directors: John W. Walter
  • Writers: Bertolt Brecht
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2010
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003VZNAU8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,857 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Theater of War" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Review

an interesting, if not gripping, film. --Roger Ebert, The Chicago-Sun Times

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. --Academy Award Winner Michael Moore

One of the best documentaries I've ever seen. --Academy Award Winner Michael Moore

Product Description

Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia!, Its Complicated) is an unforgettable Mother Courage in Tony Kushners adaptation of Bertolt Brechts masterpiece, Mother Courage and Her Children. Along with Academy Award Winner Kevin Kline (Wild Wild West, A Fish Called Wanda), this gripping documentary pulls the curtain back and digs deeply into Brechts motives and politics, unearthing the playrights famed (and famously clever) testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. For the first time in Meryl Streeps career, the film offers both an exclusive look into the actresss craft, and also on the play itself--whose themes of warfare and violence have both parallels to life in the 21st Century and Brecht's tortured history in America. DVD includes commentary from Academy Award Winner Michael Moore.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Imagine the best professor you ever had just gave you the greatest class you ever took. And now you're sitting somewhere with five other people who just took the class and you can't stop talking about it and these other people are smart, funny, thoughtful, great thinkers whose politics you find fascinating...that's a little bit what watching this film is like. It's more of an immersion in a creative endeavor. You are participating. It is about participating.

Somehow, this documentary is able to crystallize so many ideas, it becomes the crystal itself: a multifaceted thing of beauty + a structural marvel.

The film is about theater, about art, about the role of art, about roles within theater, about roles within war.

It's about the making of the Public Theater's 2006 production of Mother Courage, (which ran at Summer Stage in Central Park during the Iraq war), starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, based on Tony Kushner's new translation, directed by George Woolf- and also features the artistic director of the public theater, Oskar Eustis. So it's a valuable film if you're interested in theater. It also gives a lot of great information about Brecht and why all of these people are so passionate about his work, so no matter what your level of knowledge is on the topic, this is enlightening on that issue as well.

It's a film about a labor of love by artists who continue to labor, to love labor and to love to labor at something they love.

It also shows Meryl Streep's process as she prepares for a role- amazing documentation and a great scene of her working on a song. Definitely would recommend it to directors, actors, playwrights, dramaturges and students... and journalists- not to say that it's a 'lesson.' It's more like a revelation.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't hesitate, get it immediately! October 31, 2010
Format:DVD
This film should be required viewing for pretty much anyone, but it must absolutely be seen by the following:

1) People who admire the work of Meryl Streep, or are even just curious to hear what she has to say about acting and the thought processes that go into it.

2) People who enjoy documentary films, and can tell the difference between the merely competent ones and the ones that are the work of a true artist (in this case the Sundance Jury Prize winning director John Walter).

3) People who enjoy the theater, and want to see the preparatory work--until now hidden from public view--of some of the very most talented people in the field (including not just Streep but also Kevin Kline and "Angels in America" playwright Tony Kushner).

4) People who admire the work of Bertolt Brecht, or are simply curious to learn more about who he was and what he brought to the world of theater. (It is--rather astonishingly given the man's importance--the first documentary to examine Brecht's life and work in this way, and certainly the very first to include audio commentary of Brecht's daughter).

5) People who just want to see a truly superb piece of filmmaking unlike any they've seen before.

A lesser director would have been content to give us a series of behind-the-scenes glimpses of Meryl Streep, but John Walter goes far, far beyond that, challenging us to see the interconnections between a vast array of topics while never losing touch with the individuals that make up the project. If you've seen Walter's previous film "How to Draw a Bunny" (and you'd better hurry up and do that if you haven't) you will be delighted to see him expanding his reach and growing as a filmmaker here, both in technique and content. There is simply no one smarter than John Walter working in documentary film today, and very nearly no one addressing any of the topics that he addresses in "Theater of War."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Film - See This Movie October 7, 2010
Format:DVD
A newcomer to Brecht, I came to this film more for some behind the scenes access to the process of the great Meryl Streep. What I got was instead was something completely original and intensely moving. The film cuts between the mounting of the Public Theater's 'Mother Courage and Her Children', fascinating history of Brecht - his life, escape from war, his sly dealings with the House Un-American Activities Committee (hilarious!), and especially his ideas - and overall an investigation into the nature of theater, politics, war, and the human being's place in it all.

This is filmmaking at it's finest. Fun, Thought-provoking, truthful and with an overall edge of passion that you don't find in many films. Walter seems to really care about this subject, so much so that soon into the film (and for days later) the ideas not only stay with you but seem curl up and live alongside yours. This is about much more than theater and war.

Highly recommend to anyone looking for a thought-provoking and possibly moving experience.

Not necessary to have a knowledge of Brecht, as long as you like Meryl Streep you'll be good.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic film! August 9, 2010
By N. Rao
Format:DVD
John Walter's richly thought-provoking documentary is likely to be the best introduction to Brecht's views on theater, art, and politics for many years to come. If you've wanted to know more about Brecht but not known where to go, watch Walter's film. If you are already familiar with Brecht's life and work, and want your mind tickled by a sophisticated interpreter of his ideas, watch Walter's film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting introduction to Brecht
I'm studying for an MA in Shakespeare and Theatre, and I'm doing some reading on Brecht. So I wanted to see one of Brecht's works performed. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eric Brinkman
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curious Documentary Film
Actress Meryl Streep appears on camera and describes the actor's "process" in rehearsals as a "private" experience. Read more
Published 2 months ago by James Norwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Meryl Streep's Theater of War
This is an interesting disk, but makes me regret that there are many plays that you ***can't*** get on DVD, like a complete Mother Courage
Published 4 months ago by R. Larson
5.0 out of 5 stars Meryl Streep - Brilliant actress, best I have EVERY seen.
Very nice documentary of the making of the play. However, the commentary was extremely annoying. Especially when Michael Moore talks about how rare it is to see an actor/actress... Read more
Published 5 months ago by LeAnne W.
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring with a side of Michael Moore
Meryl Streep is one of our nation's finest actors. She is a pleasure to watch in almost everything she does. This documentary does not contain too much of her actual performance. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Welles41
3.0 out of 5 stars Movie review
I liked this movie, to me it was more of a documentary than a movie and it was a little dark for me, I will need to watch it again, to be able to understand it more.... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Beverly Patton
1.0 out of 5 stars Not*about Meryl Streep
This is not about a Meryl Streep profile, it is about a famous?? but boring play that only a few snippets of which are shown. Meryl is seen in a few of the rehearsals. Read more
Published on January 7, 2012 by Starr* Burst
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic...takes on a classic
After the movie "On the Beach," this play shaped my life more than any other event or piece of literature. Read more
Published on March 25, 2011 by C. Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this film!
This is a fascinating documentary---John Walter seamlessly moves between art, history, and politics as he explores Brecht and the Public Theater's production of Mother Courage... Read more
Published on September 24, 2010 by kt
5.0 out of 5 stars Great date movie for the thoughtful
If you date or want to date someone smart and thoughtful, this is a great movie to see together. No, it's not romantic like, say, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but it gives a lot to... Read more
Published on September 20, 2010 by Byron
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