A dark comedy about a murder and its consequences presented in a backwards manner, where death is actually a rebirth. The film starts with an "execution" of the main protagonist and goes ... See full summary »
Going properly off the map with this one! Try to imagine The Prisoner, re-shot in Renaissance Germany with a script that plays out like a badly translated J.G. Ballard novel. I think it's broadly supposed to be an allegory about how utopias always fail due to man's inherent vices, but this long film is so unfocused (and I'm not just talking about the camera work), it's hard to tell! The whole thing feels like a Dadaist Happening.
A struggling artist is persuaded by a mysterious stranger to move from Munich to a town of perfect freedom, a city of unfettered dreams - bizarrely, a brick-for-brick recreation of a German town somewhere in the Middle East (a neat way of cutting down on production costs - film a few scenes in the desert, then it's back to Germany for the rest of the shoot!) Florian duly packs his bags and heads with his wife for this promised land, created by his old school friend Klaus, who bizarrely (again - bizarre is the key word with this film) now resembles the Pope. The spectre of Klaus hangs over proceedings like Kurtz and finds further parallels in the death cult that underlies the apparent civility of the town. Klaus's appearance towards the end as a figurative - and literal - straw man ties into a sub-plot centred around Hercules Bell, a rabble-rouser who leads the crowd into a violent coup d'état as the town is blown up around them. The ending sequence sees Florian raping Olimpia against a backdrop of chaos, no doubt another allusion among many.
There are too many problems to list with this film and it's not hard to see why it remains in the wilderness - a sprawling mess that no amount of time in the editing room could fix. But in a way, I wouldn't want to fix it anyway; it's fascinating as it is and for all its faults, I'm glad stuff like this is out there.
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