Friday 22 August 2014

Weinberg depicted in Shostakovich biopic

I recently read about a Russian-language film, entitled 'Скрипка Ротшильда' - 'Rothschild's Violin'. Released in 1996, the Edgardo Cozarinsky film is based around Shostakovich's completion of Fleischman's opera 'Rothschild's Violin'. Since the opera itself last only 40 minutes, the filmmaker pads the rest of the film with biography of Shostakovich and Fleischman, how Fleischman was a Jewish pupil of Shostakovich's, who died in combat in WWII. Shostakovich completed the opera, which was subsequently disapproved of by official authorities. 

In this clip, from the epilogue at the end of the film, the year is 1948. Shostakovich has received his warning from the authorities, who are now following him around Moscow. He meets Weinberg, and they join a food queue in order to discuss their latest affairs without the government agents listening in.


Shostakovich - Sergey Makovetsky
Weinberg - Tarmo Männard
Shostakovich: So, Weinberg... I was asking about you the other day.
Weinberg: My father-in-law was killed in Minsk. The members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee have been liquidated. They are being tried as 'rootless cosmopolitans'. This could be very dangerous for us, anyway!
Shostakovich: Me, I am indoctrinated at home. A gentlemen from the party visits me three times a week. It astonished our conductor that they who control half the world have such interest in educating vermin like me. 
Weinberg: I'm starting to miss my teenage years in Warsaw. I was good at the Conservatory, and familiar with playing at weddings, bar mitzvah, playing Freilach and mazel tov
Shostakovich: I also played in a small Jewish Orchestra! I was the only 'Goy' - it was in Meyerhold's theatre company. 
Weinberg: You need to be careful which names you remember! I do not speak the name of my father-in-law. 

Counterwoman: Next please!

Lady in queue: I would like... 
Counterwoman: Eels? Salmon? Caviar? 
Lady in queue: I can see caviar, but I cannot find potatoes.

Shostakovich: Since the end of the war, I live in Leningrad. Next week I have to go to Leningrad. I will take this opportunity to visit the scenery of my youth. 

The characterisation of Weinberg is quite bizarre (Weinberg never wore glasses - though the portrayal can be read as a cruel depiction of Weinberg as a 'miniature Shostakovich'). It at least shows that the filmmakers did good research on Shostakovich's close friends and on some of Weinberg's own biography.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only dramatic depiction of Weinberg in any film. The rest of 'Rothschild's Violin' is worth watching, if only as a good staging of the opera itself. 

If readers have any comments on the film/clip, please feel free to post below. I particularly welcome any pointers/suggestions to aid my translation.

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