Retired professor of American origin lives solitary life in luxurious palazzo in Rome He is confronted by vulgar Italian marchesa and her companions: her lover, her daughter and daughter's ... See full summary »
In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period... See full summary »
In an atmosphere of political tension when the French still control Algiers, an Algerian is killed on the beach and a French man who has lived in Algiers all his life is arrested for the ... See full summary »
The power and fortune of the Von Essenbeck family remained intact even when Germany lost the great war and during the depression that followed. Now it's 1934 and the baron has summoned his family to a dinner that also brings a cousin rising in the Nazi party to the great house accompanied by a rising manager at the baron's company. Two little girls recite poetry in the parlor and then play hide-and-seek with their cousin Martin. Suddenly there is a scream. The baron has been shot with their father's gun and the father flees the country. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
A Potpourri of Vestiges Review: Luchino Visconti's haunting tale of moral and social decadence
Italian filmmaker Luchino Viconti's 1969 film "The Damned" is a haunting work of art that may quite easily be regarded as one of the boldest and most disturbing works in the whole of cinema. The Damned is a testament to the genius of Visconti who at the height of his power produced cinema that not only transcended the conventional boundaries but also had the courage to tackle themes that even today are considered forbidden. The Damned is often described as hysterical, but what can a movie that's set during the tumultuous phase of Nazi holocaust be anything but hysterical? The movie adorns a stellar international cast (led by Ingrid Thulin and Dirk Bogarde) and it does take sometime to get used to their different accents. A casual viewer can be further unruffled by movie's convoluted plot. But, patience does have its rewards and in this case, tenfold.
Those who have already watched another of Visconti's masterpieces, Death in Venice would be greatly surprised to witness the Italian maestro's range as an auteur. The subtlety and timidness that underline Death in Venice are completely absent here, at least in an explicit sense, and are replaced by the expressions of brusqueness and chutzpah in full effect. Dirk Bogarde plays a Macbeth-like character with religious fervor. While his remarkable performance in Death in Venice is easily his best ever (arguably one of the all time best performances in the history of cinema) his portrayal of an insecure usurper in The Damned is nothing short of outstanding. But, the real star of the show is Ingrid Thulin. Anyone who has seen her in Ingmar Bergman's Winter Light will get the shock of his/her life. As the imperious, glacial, ravishing Sophie Von Essenbeck in The Damned, Thulin is a sight for the sore eyes, an elixir for the perturbed souls, a poltergeist for the envious. Helmut Berger as Sophie's effeminate son Martin Von Essenbeck is equally chilling.
The Damned is replete with homosexuality, incest, gore and endless grotesqueries, and even makes most contemporary holocaust films like Schindler's List and The Pianist appear ridiculously juvenile. The Damned is a profoundly disturbing work of cinema that captures the pervasive insanity of the holocaust days as an irrefutable proof of the diabolical, debasing, animalistic character that defines the dark side of human psyche. The Damned is not meant for the faint-hearted and can only be savored by eschewing bigotry, prejudice, and conservatism.
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