You may remember Remarque as the author of the international best-seller All Quiet on the Western Front, a big success in movie theatres of that time. Thomas Mann generally is considered the premier German writer of the twentieth century, and while that’s true in terms of prestige perhaps, Remarque is a more gripping German author.
Flotsam tells a great story about stateless refugees during the Nazi nightmare circa 1937. (One should immediately sense the resonance in our time with the millions of political and climate refugees, exiles, fugitives, and victim peoples like the Rohingya of Myanmar and the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, China, experiencing cultural genocide. We might extend this list to the Tutsis of Rwanda in 1994, the European Jews of World War II, and the Armenians of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire massacres. One could add the Chinese in Indonesia who experienced a genocidal pogrom in 1965. (Think of the movie, The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson.)
The movie So Ends Our Night, based on Remarque’s great work Flotsam, shows Fredric March and Glenn Ford playing supremely harried stateless refugees, hounded all through Europe, in a nightmare of life “without a country,” passport, visa, citizenship.
Glenn Ford is only half-Aryan and is in danger of being murdered by the Nazi crazies. Fredric March is not racially endangered, but as an opponent of Hitler’s regime and a dissenter could be murdered for that treason. Both are in a “having no passport” hell.
“Individuals or nations, it’s all the same, as long as they’re safe and comfortable they don’t give a hoot about what happens to anybody else.
There’s the misery of the world.
That’s why progress is so slow and things slip back so fast.”
With some reflection, you’ll probably see the deep point March makes about global history and “the way of the world” plainly expressed without camouflaging the truth.
You can learn quite a bit if you ponder this movie conversation, with both refugees sitting under a tree, harried and distressed, in a nightmarish emergency.
Thus, So Ends Our Night can be a movie-as-university for you and feed your meta intelligence.