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Wagner & Me
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Can we (and should we) salvage Richard Wagner's spectacular music from its embrace by Adolf Hitler? In Wagner & Me, English actor and raconteur Stephen Fry attempts to answer this question while exploring his own passion for history's most controversial composer. With the witty and charming Fry as our guide, this surprising film is a provocative yet enjoyable look at Wagner's life - and his 'stained' legacy.
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Gracefully alternates interviews & biographical passages with stirring lyrical musical sequences. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like 'Parsifal' and the 'Ring' cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner's virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler's co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. --The New York Times
Any time spent with the erudite Fry is a pleasure... Wagner & Me flies by as if on wings. --Seattle Times
Top Customer Reviews
should see this wonderful film.
Very good approach to the problem, that Wagner was an anti-Semite but also a great composer and to the fact, that the Wagner family had contact with Hitler even before he won the election.
Fry, who is absolutely exited about Wagners music ask himself (and other) questions to find out, whether he can allow himself to love the music under these circumstances.
The film has strong statements but is always carried by the joy, Fry has listening to the music , being in contact with the artists.
very recommendable .
So what? Lots of people love Wagner’s music. Some would say there is nothing grander. Adolf Hitler would’ve concurred.
And that, more or less, is the premise of WAGNER & ME.
Although it is an interesting premise it is far less dramatically impacting than the creators of this film would hope. For one thing, Wagner was long dead when Hitler came along. True, they are ideologically connected in that Wagner was a pronounced anti-Semite, but so was half of Europe. What Hitler saw in Wagner’s music was an artistic symbol of Nazi ideology, but Wagner had nothing to do with it. To suggest that Wagner’s music is inextricably linked with Hitler and National Socialism is like equating the music of The Beatles with Charles Manson and his “family”. It’s more a question of what a sick mind can do to exploit something already powerful and meaningful by layering onto it a perverted agenda (albeit, in Wagner’s case, with the blessing of his family).
And that, perhaps, is arguably a story of much greater resonance and interest. Problem is, the story of Wagner’s family’s relationship with Hitler has already been captivatingly told in Tony Palmer’s far more weighty study “The Wagner Family,” a film deemed so damning by the Wagner family that they have attempted to launch a law suit against Mr. Palmer (to no avail, it seems).Read more ›
Richard Wagner was an incredibly abstruse German composer, author of many operas and especially well known for his series of creations collectively called Te Ring, four operas based of Germany's most popular myths. Wagner was Adolph Hitler's favorite composer. Fry is Jewish, and just old enough to recall the results of the Second World War.
So, why in the name of heaven would he do a motion picture entitled Wagner & Me (First Run Features)? Wagner was Adolph Hitler's very favorite composer, representing to him both the best of the Master Race and a faux history and prophecy of the Third Reich. How could an Englishman, who is Jewish, possibly reconcile Wagner's music with history and reality?
Fry explores the beauty and complexities of the opera Parsifal and the four pieces composing the ring: Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. Visually stunning, Fry traces Wagner's life, both personal and creative. The audience is treated to a tour of Europe and the composer's search for fame, fortune, recognition, and, frequently, his next meal, in 18h century Europe. Late in life, a gay flirtation with the mad King Ludwig, with Wagner counterfeiting similar feelings, led to final financial stability and the building of a special theatre in Bayreuth just for Wagner's mammoth productions.Read more ›
1) Wagner is Fry's hero
2) Fry can play piano - not great, but he can play
3) Wagner was a favorite of Adolph Hitler
4) Fry is Jewish (and some of his relatives died in the holocaust
5) Fry has an inner conflict as to whether he should actually attend the festival
These facts weave themselves through the program as Fry and his crew travel to German, Switzerland (where Wagner lives for a while) and St. Petersburg Russia - where we see the theaters where Wagner's opera were performed.
While I'm not an opera fan - and honestly have never seen a Wagner opera - I did learn a lot about him in program. I also heard a lot about Fry's own complexes which - at times - got a bit annoying. (Speaking of annoyances, he is granted an interview with Wagner's great-granddaughter, Eva, and she provides answers to his question. But Fry won't let her go. She finally thanks him and leaves annoyed and he just winks at the camera.)
So, no, this isn't my favorite Fry show but there is enough history here - and behind-the-scenes footage here to recommend this to both opera fans and the person who wants a "cliff notes" lesson in Wagner's life and legacy.
There are no special features on the DVD.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautiful castle? Could be, but all we get to see is Fry looking at it. Great theater? Could be, but all we get to see is Fry looking at it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by George Goldberg
good video essay about Wagner and Hitler by Stephen Fry. very good audio,Published 14 months ago by Carlton Gordon
Fry is obviously obsessed with Wagner's music. Welcome to the club. You, I and about 10 million others who recognize Wagner as THE genius of the Romantic era and by far the... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Rudolf Dankwort
If you are a Frye & Laurie fan and/or have loved Stephen Fry in all his many hats (from drama to comedy), this is a must of a documentary. Read morePublished 18 months ago by ann reich
At first the disc did not run on my DVD or PC. I had to unload another player to the PC and then it worked well. Read morePublished 22 months ago by federico dochi
I like Wagner's music. But...I could hardly hear Fry talking sometimes because the music was SO LOUD! No subtitles so I never knew what he said. That is why I gave it a 3-star. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Michael L. Sweet
The volume of the background music masks the narration.
At least supply text subtitles. Otherwise as interesting ,intelligent, and human as Fry does always
I saw this movie several years ago and was very impressed with it and saw it on your web site and bought it, it is one of the best purchases I have ever made.Published on August 14, 2013 by Peter Corbett