• Golden Globe Awards

Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Austria)

Stefan Zweig was an Austrian author, best know for his novellas  “Letter from an Unknown Woman”, "Burning Secret“, "Beware of Pity“ and “The Royal Game”, and biographies like "Erasmus of Rotterdam“ and "Marie Antoinette“, which was bought by MGM in 1938 and made into a film starring Norma Shearer. "Letter from an Unknown Woman“ was also adapted into a film with Joan Fontaine and directed by Max Ophüls. And Hollywood continues to be fascinated with Zweig to this day: Wes Anderson was so inspired by Zweig’s writing that he used descriptions and lines for his Golden Globe-winning film Grand Budapest Hotel. The concierge Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes, was based on Zweig. Next to Thomas Mann he was the most translated writer of his era.Stefan Zweig was born in 1881 and grew up during Vienna’s fin de siecle period with other famous jewish contemporaries like Sigmund Freud, Karl Kraus, Arnold Schönberg, Theodor Herzl, Arthur Schnitzler and Franz Werfel. Like them he fled Austria in the early 1930ties anticipating the anti-semitism of the Nazi-regime. The film tells the story of his exile from 1936 to 1942.He is at the peak of worldwide fame when he is forced to leave his beloved Vienna and emigrates to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, New York and back to Brazil, to Petropolis. Zweig is a sensitive soul who – despite anticipating Europe’s downfall early on – falls into depression. The fact that he and his loved ones find safe refuge in tropical climates, surrounded by welcoming people, cannot erase his despair. Nothing, it seems, can make up for the loss of his home.Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe is hauntingly directed by Maria Schrader, who is also an actress and screenwriter. The lead character is played by Josef Hader, a well known actor in his native Austria. The film is especially current in today’s political climate: as Europe deals with a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, it is worth remembering that millions of Europeans once fled the continent as it was coming apart under a dictator’s rule. What this story shows is the displacement, the loss of one’s roots, habits and culture, the inner and outer homelessness. And as such it is much more contemporary than its historical setting would suggest.