Wes Anderson's Grand Hotel Budapest, currently shown in Rome, is a 2014 movie based on Stefan Zweig’s novel, The World of Yesterday (Mondadori, Milan, 1994). I would like to define the book as a “post-traumatic” story because it is about the vitality and beauty of a lost world – Mitteleuropa in the late nineteenth century - and the painful experience of its end. The novel juxtaposes a creative “before” to a destructive “after”, culminated in Nazism and in World War II. Stefan Zweig did not survive this historical trauma and in 1942 he committed suicide away of his country. He could not work through the traumatic loss of that "before" and he experienced the “after” as superior to his ability to survive.
By the end of the movie the perplexed writer asks why the old owner didn’t sell the property that is now in disuse. Unexpectedly he replies that in Grand Hotel Budapest he was happy with the woman he loved and he lost after only two years of marriage. Although his happiness with Agatha was short, Grand Hotel Budapest was the stage of their love and he does not want to separate from this memory. The last picture of the movie stress the message: I do not want to be separated.
In Mourning and Melancholia Freud analyzes the two experiences of mourning and depression and he notices that in the work of mourning the reality check has to show the patient that their loved object no longer exists and that all the libido has to be withdrawn from what was associated with that object. Freud writes that “normality means that this respect for reality takes over” and only then the ego becomes once more free from it and uninhibited (see S. Freud, Lutto e melanconia, in Opere, vol. 8, Boringhieri, Torino 1976, pp. 123-124). Freud’s interpretation emphasizes the need to overcome traumatic experiences because failing this work would be a sign of pathology (depression).
Any unilateral or exceedingly quick attempt to overcome the trauma without considering its other face, even when this attitude is born of the best intentions, is likely to be counterproductive and to stop the process. Forcing traumatic experiences may exacerbate the traumatic loss, threatening to make it truly insuperable.