Liz and I went to see “Transit” on a quiet Sunday afternoon at The Clay Theater in San Francisco. Having read the novel and seen the film, following are my thoughts on the cinematic adaptation.
April 1, 2019
“Transit” is like a Twilight Zone episode. The 104-minute film, out of necessity, leaves out much of the 1942 novel by Anna Seghers. But, still, the dystopian emphasis is apparent. The main character, Georg, always appears to be in a mental fog and virtually everyone with whom Georg has contact either dies or disappears.
The main female character in the story, Marie, flows in and out of the story. It is almost as if she is not there. Instead, Marie is a ghost like presence with whom Georg strives to physically connect. But, even in the few times they are together, Marie is slipping away mentally and physically.
Two of the best scenes occur when Georg visits the Mexican and American consulates in Marseilles to obtain “Transit” papers. At the American Consulate, Georg is pressed by the consular officer about why he does not plan to pursue his professional writing career after he emigrates. Georg recites stories he has written on different topics and believe it is all superfluous. Georg has come to believe he is simply impersonating his subjects and is no longer himself.
The film is captivating because I was unsure where Georg is going, why he is going and what he expects to find when he arrives at this destination.
In the end Georg sees the elusive Marie walk by him as he sits looking out of a café in Marseilles. A short time later he learns the vessel that Georg thinks she sailed earlier has been sunk and everyone aboard perished.
Is what Georg saw the real Marie? Or a mirage?
You could believe that Georg is dead, and he is looking up from, or out of the grave because everyone in world is either dead or gone missing.