“Philip Roth Unmasked”
An American Master
Philip Roth is now 80 years old, has published thirty-one and he says he has retired from writing. Many are hoping that he will win the Nobel Prize for literature but that is for the judges to decide. This new movie takes us into the life of Roth. Karel and Livia Maner’s documentary allows us to hear Roth speaking about himself and his writing.
The film which is produced for the PBS American Masters series will be broadcast on March 29 for the first time. Literary critics, friends and other writers tell us about Roth but it is Roth himself that is the true star of this film as he should be. We see a funny, expansive and candid man.
While we do not hear much about his private life, we do learn a lot about him otherwise. We are reminded of when Roth was considered to be an anti-Semite and self hating Jew. Some of the interesting tidbits that we hear are that Roth composes his thoughts standing, that he sends his finished manuscripts to friends and then he records their reactions and uses them in revising his work. The stories about his narcissism and neuroses are pushed to the back burner and we see a man who is open and has fine self-confidence. Perhaps the most important thing that this documentary does is to remind us of Roth’s literary output. We become encouraged to read his works again or for the first time.