Synopsis: In the bourgeois circles of Europe after the Great War, can anything save the modern man? Harry Haller, a solitary intellectual, has all his life feared his dual nature of being human and being a beast. He's decided to die on his 50th birthday, which is soon. He's rescued from his solipsism by the mysterious Hermine, who takes him dancing, introduces him to jazz and to the beautiful and whimsical Maria, and guides him into the hallucinations of the Magic Theater, which seem to take him into Hell. Can humor, sin, and derision lead to salvation?
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Fred Haines
Production: Independent Film Distributors
107 min

For madmen only!...

The day had gone by just as days go by

I had killed it in accordance with my

primitive and retiring way of life

I had worked for an hour or two and

perused the pages of old books.

I had taken a powder and been very

glad when the pain has disappeared

I had done my breathing exercises, but found it

convenient today to omit the thought exercises

but, taken all in all, it had not

been exactly a day of rapture.

Perhaps it would be just right to follow

the example of Adalbert Stifters...

having an accident while shaving

shouldn't be considered a bad idea.

There is much to be said for

contentment and painlessness,

for these bearable and submissive days on which neither pain nor pleasure cry out.

But the worst of it is the contentment which I cannot endure.

Thankfully you assure yourself as you read your morning

paper that another day has come and no war broken out,

no new dictatorship has been set up, no particularly disgusting

scandal been unveiled in the worlds of politics or finance.

There is in me the savage impulse

of destroying their gods,

of seducing young girls in their

tender age towards prostitution.

After a short time it fills me with irrepressible hatred and nausea. In

desperation I have to escape and throw myself on the road to pleasure...

or, if that cannot be, on the road to pain.

I feel so bad in my childish soul that I smash my moldering lyre

of thanksgiving in the face of the slumbering god of contentment.

A wild longing for strong emotions and sensations seethes in me,

a rage against this toneless, flat, normal and sterile life.

I have a mad impulse to smash something, a warehouse,

perhaps, or a cathedral, or myself, to commit outrages...

to pull off the wigs of a few revered idols or to stand one or

two representatives of the established order on their heads.

For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment,

this healthiness and comfort, (MAGIC THEATRE - ENTRANCE NOT FOR EVERYBODY)

this carefully preserved optimism of the middle

classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.


Mr. Haller!


are you alright?

I feel kind of tired,

sorry if I scared you.

I was in a kind of trance...

I was in a state of...


Is everything alright?

Shall I help you upstairs?

No, it is not necessary.

You could seat beside me.

If you have the time.

Thank you very much but

I'm not used to that...

sitting here, watching

other people passing by.

Yes sir, you are right.

Wait a second I want to

explain the motives...

why I have to stay sitting here.

I adore this spot where

everything is meticulously tidy

here everything shines...

immaculately clean as your Aunt likes it.

A nose has to inhale everything because

some smell emerges from all things.

Peace and tranquility...

born out of order and firm sense of

compromise to little habits and obligations.

Please, don't you think

I say it with irony!

My mother used to be just

as careful and clean...

Are you ill?

Non sense

I'm just an aloof grey old wolf.

Long staircases are difficult to climb,

tall houses make me crawl.

Sometimes I suffer of pains

just like old people do...

Old people always exaggerate a little.

...but you are not older than fifty.

Yes, you are right.

Feeling pity of myself is not good, but

I'm not going to feel this way for long.

Stop. Just a second, what

is written in that sign?

What thing is this? When

is this going to happen?

This is not for everybody.

Meeting for a anarchic night!

Magic Theatre!

What do you have in your box?

I want to buy something from you.

Treatise on the Steppenwolf...

Once upon a time...

there was a person called Harry

or SteppenWolf that was his name.

He walked upright like a person, he

wore clothes as a man as well...

however he was a wolf from the steppes.

He was savage and uncontrollable inside. His

teachers used to argue to the point...

whether he had been changed...

before birth perhaps from a

wolf into a human being.

There was this idea in their minds

that he was really a wolf...

...covered by a very thin skin of humanity.

When Harry as a human being

had beautiful thoughts...

or he experimented noble

and delicate sensations...

the wolf inside would bear his teeth

and laugh with contempt and irony.

Every action would appear before

his eyes as pointless and absurd.

Harry ended feeling he was

behaving as a real wolf...

when he showed his teeth to others,

when he felt hate and animosity

toward all human beings.

Toward their lying and

degenerated habits and costumes.

Precisely this...

would summon the beast which would curse...

every feeling of well being

for his wild, wolfish nature.

His existence wasn't precisely

happy and gentle...

not meaning that his unhappiness

was at all singular...

the poor devil would make

unhappy everyone he esteemed.

Thus he had this dual and discordant

nature with two separated destinies.

According to his own opinion he was not in

touch with the conventional world around him.

However in many aspects he

would live like a bourgeois.

He had money in the bank, he would help

some poor relatives, he dressed adequately,

He procured to live in peace

with the authorities,

he would never deal either with criminals

or revolutionary intellectuals,

Or he would feel comfortable with

violent or objectionable individuals.

For him it'd be just like

starting from scratch...

as "bourgeois", to him, as a state of

being, was an ever present human condition.

Although for him there wasn't anything more

alluring than the equilibrium of the two extremes.

Let's take, for instance, two dualities

like spiritual versus libertine.

Man has the possibility of devoting

himself completely to his spiritual side,

of devoting to a life of

either clergy or sanctity.

On the other hand one can devote one self

to a life of mundane desires and flesh... order to satisfy

one's basic pleasures,

as well as leading a life for the

pursue of lucre and a social position.

One of the two ways leads to sanctity,

to the martyrdom of the spirit, to God

the other way leads to libertinage, to the

martyrdom of the flesh, to corruption.

His ideal is not a meditation but

a conservation of his own self.

The vital force of bourgeoisie

is based on this.

Artists and intellectuals

really liked Harry...

as he knew of all the

pleasures of meditation.

Many artists are of his kind. These persons

all have two souls, two beings within them.

The capacity for happiness and

the capacity for suffering.

Finally, as he was

approaching the age of 47,

a happy and not unhumorous

idea came to him,

as it meant he was

approaching the age of 50.

He started considering the idea of suicide.

In fact this idea became his final motivation.

From that day he decided...

he should get rid of himself, to use that

emergency exit to extinguish his daily suffering.

For some reason something

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Hermann Hesse

Hermann Karl Hesse (German: [ˈhɛɐ̯man ˈhɛsə]; 2 July 1877 – 9 August 1962) was a German-born poet, novelist, and painter. His best-known works include Demian, Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game, each of which explores an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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