Based on the final night of Otto Weininger, one of Sigmund Freud's most infamous case studies, WEININGER'S LAST NIGHT is like a big, ripe Sacher torte crawling with maggots. Adapted and directed by Paulus Manker from Joshua Sobel's play The Soul of a Jew, the film is one big gleeful
freak-out on turn-of-the-century Austrian themes.
Otto Weininger, a Jew in an increasingly hostile Vienna, transformed his self-hate into a perverse philosophy. He published a book in 1903 called Sex and Character which posited a racist, sexist separation of the beneficent, male, Christian character from the evil, Jewish, female character. His
theories were eventually used by the Third Reich as damning proof of the Jewish race's corrupting influence. He killed himself at the age of 24 in the house where Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827.
Weininger (Paulus Manker) arrives at a vacant apartment, preparing to move in. When questioned by the landlady as to why he chose this specific building, Weininger responds that this was where Beethoven died. The landlady closes the door and Weininger begins a hallucinogenic journey towards
suicide. We see his earliest memories of Austrian anti-Semitism. We see his father succumb to Jewish self-hate. We watch the young Otto's increasing passion to supplant Sigmund Freud as Vienna's great philosopher of the psyche. This passion turns into an obsession. Weininger visits Freud
(Sieghardt Rupp) and tries to topple the doctor's doctrines, only to be overpowered intellectually and humiliated. We watch a Zionist, Clara (Andrea Eckert), try to seduce Weininger to run away to Palestine with her. And taunting Weininger through the whole film is his eerie female doppelganger
(Josefin Platt), freakishly dressed in the same suit. The four walls of the room become a psychological torture chamber, and we watch as Weininger is slowly destroyed by his tormentors, real and imagined.
WEININGER'S LAST NIGHT is unrelenting, but it's also remarkably powerful and refreshing. It is the savvy judgment of the director to play this evening of torment not like a Greek tragedy, but rather as a carnival of the damned. The movie is a riot of color and malice. And the viewer can't help
being amused by the fact that everyone seems to be having so much fun frolicking around in the shit. The film also gets so much closer to its mad subject material than other psycho-dramas of the same genre. Manker, who also portrayed Weininger in Ildiko Enyedi's startlingly original MY 20TH
CENTURY, employs black farce for psychological effects and he pulls it off beautifully. He has succeeded in conjuring up these turn-of-the-century hysterics so successfully because he's not afraid of parodying them. And the farce clarifies these themes rather than demeaning them. (Profanity,nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Based on the final night of Otto Weininger, one of Sigmund Freud's most infamous case studies, WEININGER'S LAST NIGHT is like a big, ripe Sacher torte crawling with maggots. Adapted and directed by Paulus Manker from Joshua Sobel's play The Soul of a Jew,… (more)