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  • 3.8
A humorous portrait of one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers. This self-tortured eccentric, who preferred detective fiction and the musicals of Carmen Miranda to Aristotle, is a fitting subject for Derek Jarman’s irreverent imagination. A visually stunning and profoundly entertaining work about modern philosophy and the dark genius that revolutionized it.

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Winner of the Teddy for "Best Feature Film" at the 1993 Berlinale.

Member Reviews (8)

The overwrought style of the film, where minimal sets provide cryptically short vignettes of Wittgenstein's life is somewhat original, but doesn't work. As it wears on, the film is really about the philosopher's life of the mind, rather than his life. And Wittgenstein was a difficult subject -- argumentative, contradictory, humorless, extremely impetuous, and ungrateful to his most ardent supporters. So the style of the film, combined with the subject, leave us crumbs of an unsympathetic case, sprinkled with irrelevant touches of "humor", like the Martian commentator, really a smug McGuffin who distracts from the spirit of the concentration one is asked to placed in the work in several attempts to figure out WHAT the philosopher was worked up about. A self-serving film that doesn't clarify the philosopher at all, who is after all the only thinker to have founded two separate schools of thought, each a major influence on epistemology in the 20th century.

1 member likes this review

So, did Wittgenstein develop a working philosophy of quantum mechanics?

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At one point, Wittgenstein sez: "I am a total disaster". Well, this film is a total disaster. On its behalf, it "sort of" catches the ideas of the great excentric philosopher, but it is terribly staged (as an evolving play, it wouldn't work on the stage), photographed, conceived. Critics liked it, which shows you how idiotic and snobbish critics are when they detect something 'highbrow' in the sea of mediocrity which is contemporary cinema.

Sleep inducing even if you're interested in the great ideas, philosophical questions, human evolution, etc.

Skip it!

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An arty film aimed to make the audience feel stupid. Pretentious, minimal sets, constantly smashed fourth wall--why should we care about these people? Just dreadful. You could go to Wikipedia to learn more about the good doctor Wittgenstein.

Somewhat cartoonish view of the great philosopher's unhappy life. The lead actor did a very good job in portraying his character, but the rest of the script was too bad to really make it worth watching. There's also some stupid dwarf character to top things off. The film gets points for maintaining a distinctive style, but not much else.

oh, this is a delicious work of art! hilarious, pitch perfect, candy-coated, politically nuanced, and philosophically subtle. tilda swinton appears for a few moments, but the image of her presence and make-up/costume will follow you around for days.

this is a very challenging film for an actor, and all of them do a tremendous job. if you like to watch actors working, you'll want to "rewind" and start the film over just to do that. the acting is so good, just plain honest, ordinary good, that it takes you right to the contradictions of the character and his milieu, and you accept the nutty, rigorous, telegraphic structure of the film. karl johnson in the title role is really masterful.

the performance, art direction and overall vision of this film don't blink, not once, not for a moment. if you can be real like that yourself as a spectator then you'll appreciate this film and want to return to certain moments over and over because they remind you of the big questions that get stirred up by little insolvable details in your own life.

Magnificent. Stagey, ridiculous, Jarman-ish.

The style gets in the way of the substance more than a few times, but it makes otherwise potentially dry biopic material fairly interesting.