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The power and fortune of the Von Essenbeck family remained intact even when Germany lost the great war and during the depression that followed. Now it's 1934 and the baron has summoned his family to a dinner that also brings a cousin rising in the Nazi party to the great house accompanied by a rising manager at the baron's company. Two little girls recite poetry in the parlor and then play hide-and-seek with their cousin Martin. Suddenly there is a scream. The baron has been shot with their father's gun and the father flees the country.Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Italian censorship visa # 54737 delivered on 11-10-1969. See more »
In the massacre scene of SA men, the SS are shown using MP-38 sub-machine guns. However the movie is set in 1934, 4 years before the MP-38 were in production for the German armed forces. See more »
It's all over, Gunther. It was everyone's fault, even mine. It does no good to raise one's voice when it's too late, not even to save your soul. The fear of a proletariat revolution, which would've thrown the entire country to the left... was too great, and now we can't defend it any longer! Nazism, Gunther, is our creation. It was born in our factories, nourished with our money!
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Visconti's bizarre examination of a powerful and wealthy family whose downfall both parallels the rise and foreshadows the fall of the Third Reich is never less than entertaining, it has to be said. Certainly not to the tastes of all, it seems to revel in the decadence and debauchery it portrays in much the same way a tabloid paper feels it has to publish dozens of photographs of the pornography it pretends to condemn. Look how depraved these incestuous cross-dressing Nazis were; apart from one pious voice the whole nation, it seems, is condemned with one broad stroke and we are given no contrast against which to compare such depravity.
The characters of the Von Essenbach family are each representative of a facet of 30s German character, all joined in a desire for power or the need to be protected beneath its wing, prone to making strident and unyielding demands and dismissing the rights of those who stand in their way. This leaves us with a morally repugnant lot, none of whom we can empathise with, and also tempts the cast to overact at times. Ingrid Thulin is particularly guilty, and even the usually laconic Dirk Bogarde becomes overwrought at times.
For all these faults, the film is shamelessly entertaining and fascinating to watch. It plays like a Shakespearian tragedy at times, and you feel compelled to see it through to the end just to find out the fate of each character.
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