In March 2016, Benjamin, Dernière Nuit—composer Michel Tabachnik and librettist Régis Debray's opera about the life of essayist, critic, and philosopher Walter Benjamin—premiered at the Lyon Opera to great acclaim. Reiner Moritz's documentary, The Life and Death of Walter Benjamin, explores the opera and its principal figure through interviews with the opera's creators and clips from the opera itself.
Tabachnik and Debray's Benjamin, Dernière Nuit begins at the end: a tableau of Benjamin's body in his Port-Bou hotel room after his suicide while fleeing Nazi-occupied France. The life that man lived is the subject of both their opera and this documentary, a story that unfolds over the course of Mortiz's film and sheds new light on the Benjamin's major works and the milieu in which he worked. Exclusive interviews with the composer, librettist, and members of the original artistic team and cast—including the two Walter Benjamins, one actor and one singer, the latter of which survives to the end of the opera as a symbol of the philosopher's contemporary relevance—form the core of this fascinating documentary.
Photo: © Stofleth
Martin Kušej (stage director), Daniel Barenboim (conductor) – With Rolando Villazón (Don José), Marina Domashenko (Carmen)... and the Staatskapelle Berlin
Amandine Albisson, Mathieu Ganio, François Alu – Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris