Germany-Austria | 112 minutes | 2021
North American PremiereChess Story, also known as The Royal Game, is the last work of the Austrian Jewish writer Stefan Zweig, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his death in 1942. It is the only story in which Zweig looks at Nazism, and he does so with characteristic emphasis on the psychological. While the Nazi troops march into Vienna, the lawyer Josef Bartok hastily tries to escape to the USA with his wife but is arrested by the Gestapo. Bartok remains steadfast and refuses to cooperate with the Gestapo that requires confidential information from him. Thrown into solitary confinement, he is psychologically tormented for months and begins to weaken. However, when he steals an old book about chess it sets him on course to overcome the mental suffering inflicted upon him, until it becomes a dangerous obsession. Nominated for seven German Film Awards and winner of two Bavarian Film Awards, Philipp Stölzl's (The Physician) stellar adaption of Stefan Zweig's international bestseller is a gorgeous cinematic achievement, as stylish as it is emotional until the very last moment.
Paula & Mickey Finkle, and Maxene & Eugene Posman
Directed by Philipp Stölzl