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Frenchman Abel Tiffauges likes children, and wants to protect them against the grown-ups. Falsely suspected as child molester, he's recruited as a soldier in the 2nd World War, but very soon he is taken prisoner of war. After shortly serving in Goerings hunting lodge, he becomes the dogsbody in Kaltenborn Castle, an elite training camp for German boys. Completely happy to take care of these children, he becomes a servant of Nazism, catching boys from the area as supplies for the camp. Written by
Frank Wallner <email@example.com>
Prior to the school fire, a caption says "Paris 1925". Upon his arrest as an adult, Abel, through his narration, remembers the fire as having happened "twenty years ago". This would place his adult scenes in 1945, but when he joins the French army after his arrest it is before the German occupation of Paris which would place his arrest in 1940. However, Abel is slow-witted and possibly does not have an accurate sense of time. See more »
Count von Kaltenborn:
Mesmerizing ritual, songs and torches-- hard to resist. You are quite intoxicated by it, are you? The flames, the flags, it's a big show-- quite overwhelming, for a simple mind. Look at him. His father was a grocer in Leipzig. He stands there in his uniform as if he were selling sardines.
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Through the eyes of a French man who never grew up, The Ogre depicts wartime life in Hitler's Germany. At the same time that the film takes up loaded questions of power and subjugation, recreating the process of recruitment and training for the Aryan army, it further challenges the viewer by presenting the growing Nazi regime in a very human way. A great deal of the variety in characterization and the breadth of reach can be attributed to the fairy-tale nature of this film. By introducing the character Abel as a troubled and weak youth, the film is able to trace his life's events under the spell of `Fate.' And indeed, Abel is sheltered and provided for throughout the course of events, even when faced with the most irrational of men. In film, characters are arguably always proponents of a few key traits, around which a believable person is constructed. In a fairy-tale, this is true to a greater extent. So of course, a combination of the two leads to a meeting of quite extreme characters. In The Ogre we are presented with a man who cares so much for children and animals that he is unable to see any evil in their presence. This oversight, or, in the heavy-handed symbolism of the film, blindness, is the basic motivation behind all events.
A great deal of the film is artfully done, with many subtle displacements to stimulate emotions in the viewer. Although the oft-mentioned 'front line' is never seen, instead we are faced with the massacre of hundreds of wild animals. The childhood friend of Abel returns to him in the form of the military official in the forest, and yet, Abel does not make a connection beyond a vague similarity. He is oblivious to the extravagant decadence of dipping one's hands in jewels, or keeping a wild cat for pleasure. In his simpleton's way he meanders through a landscape of potential knowledge, yet learns nothing. It is the viewer who is given the chance to learn what he can't. Unfortunately, this schema reminded me a bit too much of Forrest Gump. However, the film speaks a great deal to the fairy-tale effects of idealism and propaganda on young children, as finally Abel is cut off by the very boys he loved, their allegiance to a greater unseen force much stronger than their understanding of fellow man.
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