Set during the fading glory of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the film tells of the rise and fall of Alfred Redl (Brandauer), an ambitious young officer who proceeds up the ladder to become ... See full summary »
Set during the fading glory of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the film tells of the rise and fall of Alfred Redl (Brandauer), an ambitious young officer who proceeds up the ladder to become head of the Secret Police only to become ensnared in political deception. Written by
Dawn M. Barclift
Brandauer again shows why reviews of his work often include the word 'magnetic' - You just don't take your eyes off him. His range is remarkable, his control of the minutest gesture superb, the subtlety of his physical screen presence majestic.
Szabo's direction is again precise but not heavy handed. If this doesn't have quite the sweep or sting in the tail of their previous collaboration, Mephisto, it is still one of the finest European films of its time.
The story is superbly crafted; to leave Muller-Stahl's Archduke Franz Ferdinand out until the last hour or so is an outstanding narrative technique, and if Muller-Stahl's performance is a trifle one-note, that's as much due to narrative constraint as actor ability - he's still pretty effective, and its one of his best roles.
Szabo has an ability to investigate history in a curiously personal and touching sense of the individual, but leaving that individual dispassionately, and gazing at him objectively; thus what comes across is a really detailed and involving character struggling against an incredible force of inevitability. Like Visconti, broad strokes, but painted in the minutest of details - only unlike Visconti, full blooded and direct.
It's at times witty, literate and touching, but always beautiful.
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