The Lady In Number 6 Wins 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

Alice Herz-Sommer, who died in London last Sunday at the age of 110, was widely described as the oldest known Holocaust survivor. She had been a distinguished pianist in Europe before the war. However, it was only after the Nazi occupation of her homeland, Czechoslovakia, in 1939 that she began a deep study of Chopin’s Études, some of the most technically demanding and emotionally impassioned works in the piano repertory.

For Mrs. Herz-Sommer, the Études offered a consuming distraction at a time of constant peril. But they ultimately gave her far more than that, far more, even, than spiritual sustenance. “They are very difficult,” Mrs. Herz-Sommer said. “I thought if I learned to play them, they would save my life.” And so they did.

In recent years, because of her great age; her indomitability; her continued, ardent involvement with music and her recollections of her youthful friendships with titans like Franz Kafka and Gustav Mahler; Mrs. Herz-Sommer became a beacon for writers, filmmakers and members of the public eager to learn her story. Mrs. Herz-Sommer was also profiled in documentary films, one of which, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, a documentary portrait directed by Malcolm Clarke, won the 2014 Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject.

The Lady in Number 6 has been described as one of the most inspirational stories ever told. In the film, Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest pianist and oldest holocaust survivor, shares her views on how to live a long happy life. She discusses the vital importance of music, laughter and having an optimistic outlook on life. This powerfully inspirational film tells her amazing story of survival and how she managed to use her time in a Nazi concentration camp to empower herself and others with music.

Read more about the life of Alice Herz-Sommer in the New York Times here.

The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved Her Life

Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

The Earth is evil,
We don’t need to grieve for it

There are 16 mini-scenes in Lars von Trier’s hauntingly beautiful eight-minute prelude to Melancholia, a movie about love, family and the apocalypse. The soundtrack for the overture to Melancholia is the exquisite prelude to Wagner’s 1859 opera, Tristan and Isolde, an opera Wagner described as “one of endless yearning, longing, the bliss and wretchedness of love; world, power, fame, honor, chivalry, loyalty and friendship all blown away like an insubstantial dream,” for which there is “one sole redemption-death, finality, a sleep without awakening.”

The movie, among Mr. von Trier’s greatest, stars Kirsten Dunst as Justine, a young advertising copywriter who, shortly after she gets married, endures two separate yet related catastrophes. A wedding party at an ocean-side golf resort owned by Justine’s brother-in-law ends with her new husband leaving, which in turn brings on the depression that overtakes her and seems to inaugurate the end of the world or her dream of the same. Many of the movie’s themes are introduced in the overture’s first minutes, a masterpiece in miniature that presents a deep reflection of literary, artistic and cinematic allusions.

Melancholia was named Best Picture at The 2011 European Film Awards in Berlin; the film also won awards for cinematography and production design. Previously, Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Melancholia. Last week, The National Society of Film Critics named Lars Von Trier’s end-of-the-world drama Melancholia Best Picture, and Best Actress honors went to Kirsten Dunst for her performance in the film.

Read more about Prelude to Melancholia in The New York Times here.

Prelude to Melancholia: This Is How the End Begins

Melancholia: The Official Trailer

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