Walter Arlen is now almost 100 years old – and the entire century comes to life again together with his stories and his music. Walter Arlen’s First 100 Years paints an affectionate and multifaceted picture of a musician exiled in 1938, who only recently got to see his works performed late in life.
The film trails Mr. Arlen’s life, beginning as a prodigious child in Vienna, through the harrowing story of survival and escape during Nazi times and all the way to his modern life as a retired music critic of the Los Angeles times. The narrative flowed freely encouraging many moments of gratifying laughter, while capturing the fine nuances of old-Viennese dialect (you know they call persimmons “Kaki” these days – now that can’t be German!).
There were the dolorous moments as well: the heart-throbbing suicide of his mother and degrading familial events, such as the aunt who had to publicly clean the sidewalks with a toothbrush. With today’s looming social and cultural madness, it is a treasure to have a living Holocaust survivor of this stature tell his story with the utmost of sincerity and understanding. Apparently, over 700 hours of footage had to be compressed into an hour!
There is one more screening taking place in Vienna on Sunday, November 4th, before its final release in 2019. For more information, click here.