Monday, October 08, 2018

Friedrich Nietzsche and Lou Salome: The Movie

"Lou Andreas Salome: The Audacity To Be Free" is a good movie about the life of Lou Salome (1861-1937)--the Russian philosopher, novelist, essayist, and psychoanalyst, who became a seductive muse for Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Ree, Rainer Rilke, and Sigmund Freud.  This is a German movie released in Germany in 2016 and then released this year in North America with English subtitles.  It can now be found at Amazon.

Cordula Kablitz-Post is the director of the movie and the co-author of the screenplay.  The movie shows her intelligent study of Lou's life and writings.  Four different actresses play Lou at four periods of her life.

Here is the trailer.

I have written about Nietzsche being "under Lou Salome's whip" (here and here).  She wrote the first--and perhaps most insightful--book on Nietzsche.  She saw that Nietzsche's early and late writings show his struggle with his religious longings, which he overcame only for a time in his middle writings (such as Human, All Too Human), where he showed his devotion to a philosophic and Darwinian science.  Like me, Lou thought that Nietzsche's middle writings were his best.

Nietzsche's struggle with God and with the possible consequences of the death of God is suggested in one scene (about 58 minutes into the movie), where Salome and Nietzsche are playfully swimming in a river.  As they joke about death and drowning, Lou speaks about her loss of faith in God as a young girl. Then Nietzsche says: "Living without faith takes a lot of energy. Perhaps it's even impossible. And it will be our undoing someday."

The meaning of "our undoing" from our loss of faith is suggested by the coming of Nazism to Germany in 1933.  Lou is in poor health in that year in Germany--she will die in 1937--and she is dictating her memoir to a young admirer--Ernst Pfeiffer, who will edit her memoir for publication in 1951.

We see how Nietzsche's sister--Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche--helped to break up Lou's friendship with Nietzsche.  We also hear about Elisabeth's management of the Nietzsche Archives to turn Nietzsche into the Nazi Philosopher and her scorn for Lou, who fears Nazi persecution.

In this way, the movie intimates the question of whether Nietzsche's death of God and Lou's philosophic freedom from faith lead somehow to the Nazi catastrophe.

I have written about the "Nazi philosophers" here, here., and here.

I haven't yet figured out how all of this is related to another theme of the film: the complexity of human eroticism at many levels--sexual, intellectual, and religious.  I might need to study some of Lou's other writing, such as the first two chapters of her memoir--entitled "The God Experience" and "The Experience of Love."

1 comment:

Kevin Mac said...

Please do write about her memoir! You're writings on Nietzsche have clarified him like no other writer has in my experience. I've been reading Nietzsche for over 10 years now, my favorite book on him is Don Dombowsky's Nietzsche's Machiavellian Politics; I recommend it. Given that you've written extensively on both thinkers, I'd kill to know your opinion on this book.

Are there English translations of Salome, I haven't come across any? Anyways, I've been regularly reading your blog for years, keep up the good writing.