I mention this here because there’s a movie showing at the Bloor next week that will interest the classical music community. It’s called Wagner and Me, and it runs from September 21 through 27.
The “Wagner” is of course the composer Richard Wagner – and the “Me” is Stephen Fry, the English actor, journalist and director. Who knew the affable and avuncular Fry was also a Wagner fan?
Visually saturated with the gorgeousness of European culture, and with glorious moments from Wagner’s music sprinkled throughout, the film is a sumptuous feast of ear-and-eye candy. As well, there are cameo appearances by conductor Valery Gergiev, Eva Wagner (the composer’s great-granddaughter), and a few academic experts to give this documentary a scholarly polish.
And then there’s Adolf Hitler: he appears in some incriminating photos, being welcomed by members of the Wagner family at Bayreuth. But even though the Führer and the Third Reich aren’t airbrushed out of the documentary, they’re placed firmly in the past. According to Fry’s view of things, that was then, this is now – and we’ve all moved on.
Despite his own Jewish roots, Fry loves Wagner, and is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at every turn. He gives the impression that he’d like nothing more than to sit down with the composer over a nice cup of tea and gently help him work through his anti-Semitic issues. In this way, his approach is conciliatory and trivializing at the same time.
For more information on the Bloor Cinema’s screenings of Wagner and Me, click here. You’ll find a trailer for the film, below.
© Colin Eatock 2012