Kris Rothstein's Blog

VIFF: Wagner & Stephen Fry

Kris Rothstein

It is telling that many of us only know Richard Wagner’s
music through the medium of
. This has something to do with him being
the ‘world’s most controversial composer.'
, famed British comedian,
is not one of those people. He is one of the Wagner fanatics, obsessives who
are so deeply moved by the music and spectacle that they will travel to the
historic theatre in Bayreuth, Germany to hear and watch up to seventeen hours
of music drama on uncomfortable seats. There is a waiting list of seven years
for tickets. In this very fun documentary, Fry forces himself to confront the
dark side of Wagner, Hitler’s favourite composer. As a Jew, Fry wonders if
there is perhaps something wrong with loving Wagner so he sets out to follow
his history, his highs and lows, and to visit the modern temple at Bayreuth.

The essential question here is not a new one: does it
ruin art if the artist is a bad or dangerous person? In this case, though, the
investigation is pushed further to ask if we can enjoy the music of a person
who may have specifically inspired one of history’s worst mass murderers. For
Fry the answer is yes, because for him, Wagner is a genius and a musical


  • Mon, Oct 11th 3:45pm Empire
    Granville 7 Th 1
  • Wed, Oct 13th 2:50pm Empire
    Granville 7 Th 1


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