Published in 1901, the book is a European classic that charts the rise and precipitate fall of a middle-class merchant family from Lübeck, whose younger generations squander the wealth amassed by their prudent forefathers. No one could have predicted the uncanny timeliness of its revival. The contemporary parallels of the book have undoubtedly struck a chord with a society in the grip of a recession and questioning the values of spendthrift capitalism.
Before the film's general release on Christmas Day, critics are already hailing its portrayal of a society eaten away by decadence and rash consumerism as a metaphor for the current woes of the west. Cultural commentators are also lining up to acclaim Mann's mordant critique of frenzied materialism and senseless spending as a manual in common-sense economics and a morality tale for the here and now.