CAPITALISM: At the heart of the capitalist world, the Swiss mountain town of Davos is a case study in equilibrium and contrast.
Carmen Gray
Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 25, 2020

There is an eerie uncanniness underlying daily routines in a sanatorium high atop the Swiss Alps in Thomas Mann’s literary classic The Magic Mountain. Its protagonist Hans comes to visit a relative and, his own health failing with a lung ailment, ends up staying for many years. As the residents cocoon, feverish, from looming mortality, time and a sense of reality bend, and an outside world lurching toward war recedes. When the book came out in 1924, the locals of the resort town were less than happy about it, we hear an art museum guide explain to visitors in Davos. They were tired of being known as a retreat for ill people, and publicity around the novel only reinforced that image. The documentary by Vienna-based filmmaking duo Daniel Hoesl and Julia Niemann has its world premiere in Visions du Reel, a Swiss festival forced online by the world’s current lung disease crisis.

A century on from Mann’s novel, the town of Davos now has a new claim to fame. A popular ski resort, it is also the annual host venue of the World Economic Forum#, a meeting place for the most influential of global leaders and business elites. But who gets to define the essence of a place — those who can import an event and attract the most media fanfare through money and power, or those who subsist there …


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