Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|My Sister Maria|
Actors: Falko Skrabal, Maximilian Schell, Gerhard Hannak, Harry Stuhlhofer, Elke Münzer
Director: Maximilian Schell
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Educational
Maria Schell ? a beautiful and talented girl born to an exceptional family of artists, a renowned actress and darling of the public ? enjoyed an unparalleled career for a German-speaking actress. Despite a glamorous acting... more »
backbaybos | Boston, MA United States | 11/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Maximilian Schell directed his first effort "Marlene" in 1984, he was challenged with a camera shy Marlene Dietrich and had to find a way to hold our interest. He succeeded! Now, with his 2nd feature, "My Sister Maria", about the later years of his actress sister Maria Schell, he makes us voyeurs into the the decline of a box office ingenue. Maria Schell was a favorite in films from the 1940's to the 1960's, and beyond. In old age, she suffered from dementia, and a myriad of health problems. She died in 2005 from pneumonia. Before she passed away, her brother made her the subject of this film.
When I started watching the film, I thought that the elderly woman on the screen was a stand-in, because she was totally unrecognizable to me. It became apparent, it was ACTUALLY Maria Schell. We as viewers, bear witness to how cruel old age can be. I admit, that some of the things that Ms. Schell was doing made me uncomfortable. Some of the situations are obviously staged. But in any event, I thought if someone was doing irrational things, you'd get a caretaker. There's a scene in the film, where Maria is walking on a snowy path alone, and she falls. My first thought was, why wasn't anyone holding on to her, if she was that unsteady? Why would you comprise a loved one's safety for the sake of art? Another scene has Maria sitting in front of 11 television sets, watching her old films. Again, I was thinking, why isn't anyone taking this woman out for stimulation? Unfeeling of the family, to just let her vegetate. There is a scene where Ms. Schell's property is being attached for unpaid bills. She is then shown on the telephone ordering two huge chandeliers, again unsupervised. The scene that disturbed me the most, was when she was lighting a fire in the fireplace by herself, and she lights a newspaper to start the fire, and accidentally drops it into a pile of wood next to the fireplace. We then see the house in flames. What was the family thinking???
My impression after the film ended was, yes, the family took some notice after she lost her fortune, but too little, too late. Her children should have been more attentive. She was crying for help, but no one was paying much attention to her. Or were they neglecting her because she wasn't around while they were growing up? It was said that she was too busy with stardom when they were young. Absolutely heart wrenching.
Some have said that Maximilian Schell filmed this out of spite, because of professional jealousy, or was just bitter because he had to come to his sister's rescue, financially. Could be. I didn't think it was fair to show a helpless elderly woman, getting herself into trouble, after leading such a charmed life. This documentary really poses questions about the motive for painting such a horrible portrait of a once vibrant woman. Why didn't Schell let her die with dignity?
I do want to say, that this documentary is VERY well directed. Maximilian Schell, draws us in, and makes us care about this poor woman. I came out being more of a fan than I already was. It's difficult to hate this film with all of it's poignant scenes. But, the truth is, this could happen to us all, either with loved ones, or to ourselves.
Ella T. Ellington | The Woodlands, TX United States | 02/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great documentary from acclaimed actor and filmmaker Maximilian Schell. Maria Schell was my favorite actress when I was growing up and it was wonderful to see her again. I had no idea what had become of her and it was interesting to see her now as an old woman. I really enjoyed this film."