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Wagner & Me

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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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An exuberant & deeply personal documentary. Fry is a charming and thoughtful guide. --National Public Radio

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

Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Fry, Eva Rieger, Chris Walton, Stefan Mickisch, Valery Gergiev
  • Directors: Patrick McGrady
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: First Run Features
  • DVD Release Date: April 30, 2013
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B8W7LD8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,433 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sabine Brunckhorst on August 5, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Everybody who love the music of Richard Wagner and maybe even has the chance to go to Bayreuth
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 .
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jon Wynne on April 14, 2014
Format: DVD
Stephen Fry is a much-beloved wit, storyteller, presenter, writer and actor. He’s also fanatically in love with the music of Richard Wagner.

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).
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alan W. Petrucelli on June 30, 2013
Format: DVD
Stephen Fry is one of the funniest men on earth, a man possessed of great acting talent. Think of the hysterical TV series A Bit of Fry and Laurie, 26 episodes co-starring Hugh Laurie revered as great comic genius to his awarding-winning portrayal of Oscar Wilde, his talent is enormous and somewhat audacious.
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.
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Format: DVD
I first discovered British TV actor/commentator Stephen Fry a few years ago via the DVD titled "Stephen Fry's America" where he traveled through nearly all 50 states giving us an "outsider"' s view of our country. (I still recommend that title.). This 89 minute show co-produced by the BBC and released in Europe last year (now making it's NTSC debut) follows Fry on his first visit to the city of Bayreuth, Germany to attend the annual Bayreuth Festival of Wagnerian Operas which is presented in the theater that Wagner himself built (with land and money from "Mad" King Ludwig II) in 1876. We learn a few things early on in the program:
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.
Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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