intentionally or unintentionally, Anna Winger He always ends up writing series that reflect the present through history. she passed him with Deutschland 83that excellent spy drama set in the throes of the Cold War, one on one with her husband Jörg: “We wrote the series while Putin signed the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the old divisions between Russia and the West were re-emerging at the surface”, he tells in an individual interview with this newspaper.
On the other hand, before the premiere of ‘Unorthodox’her successful adaptation of Deborah Feldman’s liberation memoirs, our interviewee was already working on what would end up being ‘Transatlantic’ (Netflix, Friday, the 7th)account of the heroics of Varian Fry (cory michael smith), the American literary journalist who arrived in Marseilles in the mid-1940s as head of the Emergency Rescue Committee, an organization founded to help those persecuted by the Nazis and French collaborationism escape to safety. Among them, many artists and writers, especially Jews; people like the artist max ernst or the thinker Hannah Arendt.
She has lived in Berlin for two decades, but Winger is American, the daughter of anthropologist parents with many colleagues who had come to the country as refugees during the Second World War; some of them, helped by Fry himself. The writer-producer (formerly a photographer) revisited those stories during the 2015 European refugee crisis.”‘History never repeats itself, but it often rhymes’, as Mark Twain would say. With every war we see people displaced, without a home, without a homeland. These things happen in cycles and unfortunately it happened again.”. And once again just a few days after the start of filming in Marseille for ‘Transatlantic’. “Of course, we didn’t expect to shoot this series while another war was breaking out in Europe. My refugee crisis was inspired by another, but we didn’t expect to shoot while a third was breaking out.”
many layers of fiction
After he had been thinking about how to remember the story for a while, Winger learned of the existence of ‘The flight portfolio’, novel by Julie Orringer which ended up serving as a source of context and important inspiration for the psychological processes of Fry, also described here as a gay man. This last part is not fiction (Varian’s son confirmed his father’s hidden identity in 2019), but many others are: “The series is a highly fictionalized account of a true story, based in turn on another story that it was already very fictional in itself”, warns possible suspects.
Far from the severe docudrama, ‘Transatlantic’ offers a quite vibrant mix of drama, comedy and romance. Winger addresses with light and color the adventures of Fry and his associates, including volunteers such as Mary Jayne Gold (gillian jacobs), wealthy Chicago heiress who invests her own trust fund, or German-Jewish intellectual Albert O. Hirschman (Lucas Englander), later a famous economist in the United States. “When looking for a shade, especially I was thinking of the kind of Hollywood movies that many exiled European screenwriters were writing at the time. Titles such as ‘To be or not to be’ or ‘Casablanca’. They were using humor and romance and many attractive tools to process the pain of what was happening in Europe.“.
By including moments of lightness in the tragedy, the co-creator (with her close colleague Daniel Hendler) of ‘Transatlantic’ wanted to remind us that even in the worst of crises we are still human beings. “Humor, creativity, friendship, sex, romance… All of these things can shed light in the dark. Make us feel alive when everything is terrible.”