Oskar Werner - The Jules of Cinema.

Born in Austria, in Vienna, Oskar Werner named as “the Julius of Cinema” was an actor, director and screenwriter. Readers will recognise him as the Jules of Cinema. A re-adaptation of the book Jules and Jim by Truffaut. He lived with his family in the Gumpendorf district, in a modest environment. His first introduction to the cinema was through figuration. He used it to pay for his acting lessons. Helped by his uncle to integrate roles, he played in Geld faellt von Himmel, Hotel Sacher or Leinen aus Ireland. In addition to the films he acted in, he used his lessons to perform at the cabaret Der Beisskorb and the theatre Die Komoedie. In 1940, at the age of 18, he entered the Burgtheater in Vienna under the stage name “Oskar Werner” on October 11, 1941. On December 3, 1941, after his nineteenth birthday, he was enlisted in the Wehrmacht, the armed force of the Third Reich. His values were at odds with what he had to face. He will do anything to sabotage his integration and will even go so far as to make big mistakes with his gun to demonstrate his irresponsibility. He will not be sent to the Russian front to fight, but will be employed on chores and cleaning latrines. He will marry the actress Elizabeth Kallina. She is half-Jewish and the Gestapo keeps a constant watch on them. In 1944, they gave birth to their daughter, Eleonore. During the Allied bombing of Vienna, he was buried under the rubble for three days. On 8 December 1944, he abandoned the Wehrmacht and took his wife and their baby with him. They hid in a hut in the woods around Vienna and survived under very difficult conditions until the end of the war. In the post-war years, Oskar returned to the Burgtheater and expanded his range of classics on stage. In productions such as “The Misanthrope”, “I Remember Mother”, “Julius Caesar” and “The Death of Danton”. He has also played a wide range of character and senior male roles. Although ready to become a movie star, Werner’s experience with film studios soon brought him to Hollywood. However, America did not succeed in making him a Hollywood product. So he returned to Europe to make theatre. Considered one of the most recognized young actors on the Western European stage, he gained international fame with his performance in Hamlet in 1952, a role he often took over. He returned to the cinema a few years later with four of his feature films that came out in 1955: The Last Act (1955), Spionage (1955), Mozart (1955), Lola Montès (1955). His interest in cinema only reawakened in 1962, when he caused an international sensation alongside French star Jeanne Moreau in the cinematic masterpiece of François Truffaut’s “Nouvelle Vague”, Jules et Jim (1962), in the role of the very romantic and intellectual “Jules”. Truffaut also offered her another leading role in the futuristic classic Fahrenheit 451, but the relationship between the two men was irreparably damaged by artistic differences during the shooting. Werner’s unfortunate situation during filming triggered an already growing alcoholism problem and marked the beginning of the decline of his career.

Oskar Werner.


His long-standing drinking problem has made Oskar a recluse. He has been divorced twice.
He spends the last years of his life travelling abroad, reading poetry and folk poetry and occasionally performing on stage. In 1967 he presented his one-man show “An After Dinner Evening with Oskar Werner”, which included readings of works by Schiller, Goethe and others. In 1970 he toured again with “Hamlet”. His last stage appearance was in 1983 in a production of “Prince of Homburg”. On Monday, October 22, 1984, Werner cancelled a concert reading at a German theatre club taking place in the evening due to illness. The next day he was found dead of a heart attack at the age of 61. He was buried in Liechtenstein, his adopted country. He died only two days after Truffaut.

"Oskar Werner in the film Fahrenheit 451 by François Truffaut".