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Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, July 2012

This hour-long documentary considers the fate of those exiled to the ‘Weimar on the Pacific’, Los Angeles, which at one point housed much of the elite of the Jewish and anti-Nazi artistic diaspora.

Mediated by interviews with cultural historians we get a broad overview of this colony or series of colonies, and of their variously open or hermetically sealed natures. Some exiles clearly never overcame the shock of leaving their country or their language or both. Thomas Mann’s famous comment, reported in the New York Times, that ‘Where I am, there is Germany’ was not a sentiment shared by his brother Heinrich, for instance, whose inability to write creatively is succinctly delineated by Christopher Hampton (in an old filmed interview).

An evening at which Rachmaninov, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky swapped gossip—they represented different stages of emigration, and for different reasons—was wholly different from the tragi-comedy of Austro-German society trying to re-establish itself in the neon panorama of the West Coast. The fact that they were so elevated in their professions, and so internationally lauded, hardly diminishes the pitiful if companionable fate of émigrés clinging together tenaciously like limpets on the hull of American West Coast cultural life.

The voice of reason here is the laconic though admiring actor and director Norman Lloyd…His patrician but cogent look at Brecht and Eisler offers an American’s perception on the workings of this curious colony of displaced, misplaced interweaving characters. Elsewhere, the readings from diaries, in strongly accented German, plump up the dimensionality of their experiences… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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