Skip to main content

MY WAR YEARS: ARNOLD SCHOENBERG

Germany, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)

Director: Larry Weinstein

Few musicians have been more revered, and at the same time, more despised, more controversial, more discussed, and ultimately more influential than Arnold Schoenberg.

This adventurous, and beautifully recreated, docu-drama centres around the explosive years of 1904 to 1923 when Schoenberg, little by little, began to abandon tonality in his music (later developing his revolutionary method of composing with all 12 notes of the chromatic scale). To contemporary ears, his music from the Vienna years, (for example, Tiansfigured Night) is sublime. However the stormy rage expressed by audiences at his concerts, and the insulting attacks of contemptuous music critiques drove Schoenberg into increasing isolation and bitter poverty — often the fate of those destined to introduce radical ideas into a conservative world.

Interweaving documentary and dramatic technique, the filmmakers have taken great delight in capturing the flavour of those remarkable times, provocatively creating an 'Arts programme' as it might have been envisioned in 1923!

Archival footage, rare photographs and dramatic re-enactments, with friends and enemies come back from the grave to speak directly to the camera — in the form of 'interviews' and 'Schoenberg's home movies' — combine to paint a portrait of the composer that will ensure the scandal will never cease.

See also...

SEPTEMBER SONGS: THE MUSIC OF KURT WEIL

Kurt Weill is one of the century's most indi­vidual and idiosyncratic composers. In Ger­many, his collaboration with Berthold Brecht produced both The Threepenny Opera and Mahagonny. In exile ... More »

LESSONS OF DARKNESS

Lessons of Darkness marks a welcome return to form for German director Werner Herzog, once a regularly seen figure on the festival circuit, now noted mainly for his absence. After a decade of ... More »

THE TWO HORSES OF GENGHIS KHAN

An initiation into the little-heard music of Mongolia that is as captivating to the eyes as it is to the ears. ... This highly stylised documentary from filmmaker Byambasuren Davaa (The Cave of the ... More »

STARS BY HELMUT NEWTON

Notorious for his stark, black and white photography capturing ice-cool Teutonic giantesses in fetish wardrobes, Helmut Newton is one of modern photography's most enduring figures. This alluring ... More »

80,000 SHOTS

A captivating documentary and the result of thousands of hours of painstaking time lapse photography. With superstar architect Renzo Piano at the helm, Berlin's Potsdamer Platz between 1990 and 2001 ... More »

THIS AIN'T CALIFORNIA

Skateboarding becomes a metaphor for freedom in this prize-winning love letter to the subversive power of youth. ... East Germany in the 80s. For three teens - Nico, Dirk and Dennis - life in the GDR ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director