When Nietzsche Wept 
Director: Pinchas Perry.
Screenwriter: Pinchas Perry.
Adapted from the novel by Irvin D. Yalom.
Cinematographer: Georgi Nikolov.
Production: Millennium Films.
Plot: Viennese doctor Josef Breuer and philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche swap therapies to
treat their maladies.
Armand Assante ... Friedrich Nietzsche.
Ben Cross ... Josef Breuer.
Joanna Pacula ... Mathilda Breuer.
Jamie Elman ... Sigmund Freud.
Rachel O'Meara ... Frau Becker.
Katheryn Winnick ... Lou Salomé.
Michal Yannai ... Bertha.
Watch Trailer (Youtube).
If you can make it through the first 25 minutes without lacing your popcorn with arsenic — where Nietzsche is depicted as a migraine-ridden, slovenly whoremonger, and Katheryn Winnick tackles her role of Lou Salomé with dee vurst komeekal Roosian accent since Natasha's confrontations with Rocky and Bullwinkle — you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
Returning from hospital, stomach freshly pumped, we grit our teeth, plop in the DVD, and return to the spectacle. At first glance, what is striking about this attempt to highlight Nietzsche is the spaghetti against the wall tactic: let's throw into the plot every personal fact we think we know about him and hope that something "telling" sticks. Thus we get the headaches, whores and psychedelic dreams, all more apropos to an 80s' punk video than anything remotely resembling a veiled biopic. There is also a smattering of favorite catchphrases when Pinchas Perry deems it appropriate to move the story along. However, to be fair, we really don't know that much about Nietzsche's personal life other than what he wished to reveal. Still, a cursory dip into Curt Paul Janz's epic biography shows us a fastidious man trapped in a decaying body, a perfumed philosopher crammed into the decrepit surroundings of a pensionnaire. It would be more fitting, not to mention more fun, to portray this mask of perceived nobility slowly melting away under the heat of failing health and poverty than what we get here, which is more of an ode to a conversationalist on the road to catatonia.
Armand Assante (Nietzsche) plays an off-putting character, everything slightly askew — from his attire to the requisite 'stache — but the material he has to work with inhibits any tension on screen, i.e., that of a man breaking down and breaking apart while still producing astounding philosophical works. Assante once pulled this off perfectly years ago, with his portrayal of the cuckolded conductor in the remake of Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours, but never really gets the chance to fulfill that promise. Instead, he is limited to carrying around some mangy burden that can only be lifted by interacting with his doctor, Joseph Breuer (Ben Cross), a peevish, bourgeois Viennese physiologist with a failing marriage and an obsession for a female patient. Breuer suggests a Swiss spa for the philosopher's stress and offers to treat him gratis, which only arouses Nietzsche's suspicions about the doctor's motives. Breuer then discloses his need for treatment of his own mental despair, and the two finally agree to attempt a mutual healing process.
The doctor's subsequent discussions with his young friend Sigmund Freud (Jamie Elman, who, with a display of pleasant equanimity, comes off as the only genuine person in the entire movie) center around integrating Nietzsche's conscious and unconscious drives to alleviate his suffering. At the Lauzon Clinic, Breuer reveals his past affair with his patient Bertha (Michal Yannai), and Nietzsche submits that this despair hinges on her power over him. He then suggests that the doctor lie down on the couch for an effective way of recalling memories, and as Breuer later relates the story to his friend Freud, we see the alleged birth of psychoanalysis.
Meanwhile, Nietzsche soon discovers that something is rotten in the state of Breuer-land, as the affluent yet dissatisfied doctor laments his bourgeois malaise, lust, as well as the ultimate obsession that drives all men to despair. Bertha's parting words "you will always be the only man in my life" worm their way into him, and he resorts to delving into Nietzsche's own failures at love. At this point, nothing could be more risible than Assante responding meekly like a church mouse, getting in touch with his feminine side, as it were. Acknowledging it, surely, overcoming it, certainly, but puhlease ... He then recovers and likewise does his worst, exposing Breuer's own obsession in the harshest light.
The movie wanders around this theme of emotional one-upmanship all in the service of that psychological panacea called friendship, as you wonder if you forgot to let the dog out and stare longingly at the arsenic on the counter. But with a sigh and a self-reprimand, let us say that, at its core, When Nietzsche Wept isn't really about the philosopher at all. It could have been entitled "When Joe Shlabotnik Wept," but no one outside of a few devotees of Charles Schultz would get the reference, or even care. It's really a paean to psychoanalysis and the so-called "talking cure": the fact that Nietzsche participates in the conversation is mere window-dressing. Witness the opening university "lecture" in which he espouses opinions he would only express many years after he retired from teaching due to ill health. When Nietzsche Wept doesn't confuse us with the facts — for they would just get in the way of the fiction, and a poor interpretation at that.
Friedrich Nietzsche: un voyage philosophique 
A film by Alain Jaubert.
Coproduction: ARTE France, Palette Production.
Nietzsche texts interpreted by Lars Rudolf.
Commentary by Christian Rist and Nicolas Fournier.
This lovely film is divided into twelve segments: 1. Le seigneur sans patrie. 2. Apollon ou Dionysos. 3. Sans la musique. 4. La grande santé. 5. Le voyageur et son ombre. 6. Le méchant Socrate. 7. L’éternel retour. 8. Deux démons. 9. Un livre pour tous et pour personne. 10. Antisémite! 11. Je suis de la dynamite. 12. Aux environs de l’an 2000.
Each segment contains interviews with writers and philosophers: Jean-Pierre Faye, Barbara Cassin, Rudiger Safranski, Roberto Calasso, Vincent Descombes and Georges Liebert.
Watch Movie (Youtube).
Dias de Nietzsche em Turim 
"Nietzsche's Days in Turin."
Director: Júlio Bressane.
Screenwriters: Júlio Bressane and Rosa Dias.
Cinematographer: José Tadeu Ribeiro.
Production: Grupo Novo de Cinema e TV.
Plot: Traces Nietzsche's final working days before his collapse in Turin.
Fernando Eiras ... Friedrich Nietzsche.
Premiered at 2001 Venice Film Festival.
Watch Movie (Youtube).
Dias de Nietzsche em Turim's dizzying, out-of-focus opening is unintentionally comedic. "What the hell was that? Who's that guy walking into the frame, the caterer? Was that a teal Izod shirt in 1888?!" we exclaim, trying hard to suppress our laughter. Camera angles careen every which way in order to avoid "modernity" (i.e., reality), making it difficult to take the movie seriously. (The credits state that the footage in Turin was shot over a period of 6 years, from 1995-2000.) "Wait until it's 4 in the morning, shoot an exterior, and then go home and fill the interior shots," does not seemed to have crossed director Bressane's mind. No, he's going to do the impossible, impossibly. Moreover, the cartoonish moustache worn by Fernando Eiras (Nietzsche) looks like a hand-me-down that even a Yosemite Sam impersonator would be loath to wear. Lastly, the movie ends with an unfortunate sequence: with deft manipulation and reconstruction of Hans Olde's still photos from 1889, it managed to fool many into believing that it was real, and spawned another internet legend about Nietzsche. It's not actual film footage of the incapacitated philosopher.
Elisabeths Wille 
Weimar 2000: Video-Presentation.
Production: Stiftung Weimar Klassik — Besucherfilm.
Script: Sabine Schirdewahn.
Special effects: Lutz Garmsen.
Hand-crank camera: Jürgen Rumbuchner.
Director: Sabine Schirdewahn, Sven Hain.
Nine production stills are at Sabine Schirdewahn's website (navigate to: works / Elisabeths Wille).
Watch Movie (wmv).
Friedrich Nietzsche ... Alfred Hartung.
Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche ... Helga K. Männche-Kolb.
Special effects film based on Hans Olde's 1899 photography. See Renate Reschke, "Vom Schein der Authentizität. Elisabeths Wille von Sabine Schirdewahn im Kontext früher Nietzsche-Fotografien." In: Nietzsche im Film: Projektionen und Götzendämmerungen. Volker Gerhardt, Renate Reschke. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2009: 79-100. [Series: Nietzscheforschung. Band 16.]
Zarathustra's Drunken Song 
A film by Stephen Blauweiss and Tali Makell.
Language: English-version narrated by Fritz Weaver.
Premiered in Sils-Maria, Switzerland in Fall 2000.
Watch a clip (Youtube).
"A film biography about Nietzsche, comprised of his musical compositions, poems, philosophical writings and letters, with images from his life as seen through his eyes in the hours before his descent into madness."
Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil 
Part of the series Human, All Too Human:
Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.
Director: Simon Chu.
Originally produced for television broadcast (BBC) in 1999. Ripped on YouTube.
Friedrich Nietzsche 
Part of the series Great Philosophers.
Discussion between Bryan Magee and J. P.
Originally produced for television broadcast (BBC) in 1987.
Ripped on YouTube.
Also Known As:
Wagner — Das Leben und Werk Richard Wagners (Germany).
Wagner: The Mini Series (Australia: video title).
Director: Tony Palmer.
Written by: Charles Wood.
Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro.
Production: London Cultural Trust; Hungarofilm.
Watch on (Youtube):
Richard Burton ... Richard Wagner.
Vanessa Redgrave ... Cosima von Bulow.
László Gálffi ... King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
John Gielgud ... Pfistermeister.
Miguel Herz-Kestranek ... Hans von Bülow.
Ralph Richardson ... Pfordten.
Laurence Olivier ... Pfeuffer.
Ronald Pickup ... Nietzsche.
Richard Burton stars in this long and labored televison series about the life of Richard Wagner. Burton's performance is a bit inconsistent, with some odd choices, including a brief temper tantrum that is sure to elicit a mixture of laughter and disbelief. What is consistent, however, is Vanessa Redgrave's performance as Cosima. She was made for the part, and steals the show in the process. Throughout the second half of Wagner, Nietzsche (Ronald Pickup) serves as a sounding-board for Wagner's ideas and opinions, some of them estimable, others completely vile. We first see him taking a boat ride on his way to Tribschen, Wagner's Swiss retreat, where he dines with Wagner, Hans Richter (Stephen Oliver), and Cosima, while enduring teasing remarks about his vegetarianism. His next appearance is on horseback alongside King Ludwig and his retinue, which makes for a strange, fictional moment. On another visit, Nietzsche and Wagner discuss his operas and the allure of the fetching Judith Gautier. Further discussion at dinner features Wagner belittling both France and his guest, August Villiers de l'Isle-Adam (François-Eric Gendron), which leads to talk of the Franco-Prussian War, and Nietzsche's decision to serve as a medical orderly. Nietzsche on the battlefield tending to the wounded sparks thoughts of the will to power as he sits and muses beneath a tree (Nietzsche came up with the idea six years later, but that fact doesn't serve the plot).
While Cosima and Richard marry, Nietzsche rides on a train full of wounded soldiers. His recovery is not addressed, and instead we then see him standing on the staircase at Tribschen for the "Siegfried Idyll," followed by Wagner railing about philosophy, art, and the philosophers who "plunged us into the dark ages, the shits: made us speculate on existence instead of getting on existing." Walking together in the mountains, they make plans for his theater in Bayreuth, with Wagner drawing inspiration from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. Wagner's meglomania is on full display, ridiculing Nietzsche for spending time on "piano pieces" instead of working on behalf of Bayreuth. Wagner, eventually addresses their rupture, as Nietzsche's final appearance culminates in a long-winded monologue about Wagner's fatal flaws, drawn from his The Case of Wagner. Pickup portrays Nietzsche with diffident gestures and a meek, humorless mien, thus drawing a character more fitting a chartered accountant than a budding philosopher. In addition, from beginning to end, Burton's Wagner is exposed, warts and all, in a very matter-of-fact manner, as a multitude of sycophants never address his vile ramblings — until Nietzsche's final rebuke. Even performances by three acting titans, Olivier, Gielgud, and Richardson, cannot save the show, being just as feckless as Wagner itself, save for the score performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Georg Solti.
Al di là del bene e del male 
Also Known As:
Oltre il Bene e il Male (Italy).
Au-delà du bien et du mal (France).
Beyond Good and Evil (USA).
Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Germany).
Seeds of Evil (Australia: video title).
Director: Liliana Cavani. (Stills on her site).
Screenwriters: Franco Arcalli, Liliana Cavani, Italo Moscati.
Cinematographer: Armando Nannuzzi.
Production: Clesi Cinematografica.
Stills at Lombardia Beni Culturali.
Watch clip 1 (Youtube).
Watch clip 2 (Youtube, with Spanish subtitles).
Soundtrack (ripped on YouTube).
Dominique Sanda ... Lou Andreas-Salomé.
Erland Josephson ... Friedrich Nietzsche.
Robert Powell ... Paul Rée.
Virna Lisi ... Elisabeth Nietzsche.
Michael Degen ... Karl Andreas.
Elisa Cegani ... Franziska Nietzsche.
Umberto Orsini ... Bernard Förster.
Philippe Leroy-Beaulieu ... Peter Gast.
Carmen Scarpitta ... Malvida.
Nicoletta Machiavelli ... Amando.
Amedeo Amodio ... Dott. Dulcaman.
A Disciple of Nietzsche
Scenario: Philip Lonergan.
Production: Thanhouser Film Corporation.
Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
Marshall Welch ... The Professor
Lorraine Huling ... The Professor's Daughter
Florence LaBadie ... The Factory Girl
Harris Gordon ... The Gangster
Boyd Marshall ... The Factory Foreman
This anti-eugenic drama, released in September 1915, was inspired
by H. L. Mencken's 1908 book, The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, from which Lonergan quotes verbatim in his scenario. Unfortunately, no copies of the film have survived.
A detailed plot summary is in the newspaper, "The Moving
Picture World," 1915:2246-47 (click below), while a more recent but brief synopsis appears in Martin S. Pernick, The Black Stork. Eugenics and the Death of "Defective" Babies in
American Medicine and Motion Pictures Since 1915. Oxford
University Press: New York, 1996:131. Both sources fail to attribute the purported Nietzschean text in the scenario to Mencken. For more reviews of the film from 1915, see Q. David Bowers, Thanhouser Films: An Encyclopedia and History.
Recent Shorts & Video Productions
Zo sprak Nietzsche / Thus Spoke Nietzsche 
Director: Yve du Bois.
Camera: Patricia Werner Leanse.
Editor: Patricia Werner Leanse.
Video. Filmed in Switzerland.
Dutch, with English subtitles.
Duration: 7 min. 26 sec.
Plot: Reenactment "Friedrich Nietzsche travelled in 1879 to the Swiss Alps to find relief from his severe headaches. What did he discover?"
Yolan de Boer .... Friedrich Nietzsche.
Meu Amigo Nietzsche 
"My Friend Nietzsche."
Director: Fáuston da Silva.
Screenwriter: Fáuston da Silva.
Cinematographer: André Lavenére.
Production: Aquarela Produções Culturais.
Plot: A young boy discovers Nietzsche.
André Araújo Bezerra ... Lucas
Juliana Drummond ... Mother
Abaeté Queiroz ... Father
Simone Marcelo ... Teacher
This 15-minute short premiered at the Festival de Brasilia do Cinema Brasileiro in September 2012. It debuted in the USA in 2015 at the Portland International Film Festival.
Original in Portuguese.
With Spanish subtitles.
With English subtitles.
After being warned by his teacher that he must improve his reading skills, a young boy chances upon a copy of Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra while chasing a kite into a local garbage dump. The discovery impacts his life in several interesting ways.
Other Sites of Interest
Zarathustra's gift in Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice