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 ...
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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:
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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First, John Malkovich's performance is incredible. He is one of the greatest actors today, and maybe in all cinematic history, and proves it in this movie.
How is that someone can honestly believe that they are doing good when in fact all they are doing is harm? This is the theme of this movie. John Malkovich gives a commanding and chilling performance as a man who is frightening and engages in harmful behavior but has no insight as to the abominable nature of his conduct. The Malkovich character is utterly depraved yet his depravity is not driven by animus which makes it even harder to figure out. He wraps himself up in some kind of fantasy world but he is not psychotic, is essentially mild mannered and deferential to authority and does not seem intent on hurting anyone. Yet, everywhere he does people get hurt because of him. He believes that he is doing good when he is doing bad. This what the Nazi war criminals apparently believed. They believed that they had a mission to accomplish and had no problem rationalizing and denying the destructiveness of their program. In fact, they vigorously defended their actions as being in the best interest of humanity. The Malkovich character thinks in much the same way and not surprising is equally warped.
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