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KURT VONNEGUT: UNSTUCK IN TIME (2021, USA) Movie review, plot, trailer

Although the name Kurt Vonnegut may not mean much to us in Europe, he was one of the greatest American writers of the second half of the 20th century. After becoming famous in the late 1960s for his anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, he became the greatest literary star of the 1970s, and a documentary about his character and work, Robert B. Weide (now an experienced documentary filmmaker and director of the first episodes of Larry David). he planned to record back in the mid-1980s. Weide was also a big fan of this writer (in the 1990s he wrote the screenplay and produced the film “Mother Night” based on Vonnegut’s book of the same name), and over the years the two became close and became great friends.

Vonnegut, meanwhile, died in 2007 at the age of 85, and Weide apparently has not known to this day how to make a film about this American writer of German descent. In the end, he opted for a personal, intimate approach and is both “Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time” and a documentary about how Weide tried to make the film all those years and how he couldn’t find a way to tell his story. And Vonnegut’s life story is truly amazing, through growing up in a family of German immigrants in Indianapolis, a wealthy entrepreneurial family left without anything during the Great Depression of the 1930s until World War II. One of the key details, we shall see, in Vonnegut’s life was his capture in December 1944 and his capture in Dresden, which was razed to the ground in February 1945.

What he experienced in Dresden was later shaped by Vonnegut in his groundbreaking book, but it took more than two decades of diligent literary work, tireless writing, living in poverty, raising his three children and four nephews he adopted after in a short time his sister and brother-in-law died. When fame arrived overnight, along with money, it was clear that the writer’s life had completely changed, and his views on life, thoughts and attitudes can be learned through footage taken by Weide over almost a quarter of a century, from 1982 onwards. until his death. And just as the subtitle of the film says which is actually the first sentence from “Slaughterhouse-Five” (Billy Pilgrim Come Unstuck in Time), so the narration constantly jumps from one time period to another. At the same time, it is a classic biographical documentary, but also an intimate story of a man who almost eventually became Vonnegut’s personal archivist.