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Manoel de Oliveira
Luís Miguel Cintra
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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:
This whole beautiful country, to which we have given our souls, is utterly doomed. It's going to be wiped out of human memory. Our entire heritage, even our name, our ancestors' names, wiped out, all wiped out!
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One published reviewer said that Goring's character was written, and played, for comic effect. This complaint sounded plausible, but a glance in Encyclopedia Britannica reassures our confidence in the production's respect for authenticity. It suggests that Volker Spengler's characterization may be on the mark.
During Hitler's Putsch in 1923, Goring sustained a painful injury whose relief by means of morphine turned him into a drug addict nearly the rest of his life. This influence, in turn, made him "alternately elated or depressed; he was egocentric and bombastic, delighting in flamboyant clothes and uniforms, decorations, and exhibitionist jewelry." We see all these traits in Spengler's scenes, e.g. in his drunken alternation between a tirade and a blue funk at the fact that someone else had shot a stag that he wanted to shoot. When a soldier enters to bring him some really bad news, Goring is already so gloomy that he barely raises his hand from the table to salute, and his "Heil Hitler" is just a slurred grunt.
The article also establishes his corpulence and luxuriousness, to a point resented by his colleagues in the party. "His hunting interests enabled him to obtain a vast forest estate in the Schorfheide, north of Berlin, where from 1933 he developed a great baronial establishment" called Carinhall, full of artistic war booty, to which he retired whenever he could.
The film showed Goring as an often jovial man given, like Hitler, to occasional fits of imperious screaming. This behavior, according to one book I read recently, was to be expected of any top leader of the Third Reich not merely as a habit but as a deliberate technique. People outside of Germany were slow to take Hitler seriously as a threat because this conduct was so strange to them. They did not realize that German culture of the time regarded it as a standard part of the fatherly role. Therefore, as Hitler understood well, the more he screamed and shouted at his countrymen, the more closely they would identify him as a father figure and the embodiment of Der Vaterland.
Many superstitious beliefs have been associated with precious stones. The novel explains that Goring was not unique in imagining that plunging his fingers into a bowl of gems would drain away nervous energy and uncomfortable emotions. Other sources recount that when Hugo von Hofmannsthal's first poems appeared, under a pseudonym, they were so heavy with sensuous Weltschmerz that one critic declared they must have been written by an opulent old man while dipping his fingers in jewels. (He would soon be surprised that the poet was still a youth). So even this strange indulgence of Goring is in keeping with the ambient culture among those few who could afford the experience.
One could say much, much more about this complex film, but perhaps this elucidation of just one minor aspect suggests the multilayered care with which it has been put together.
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