Bankruptcy of an Individual; Bankruptcy of a Nation!
Spectacular adaptation of Mann's novel. Superbly well-directed. The film is an abridged version of the novel. It is not a horror film in the tradition sense. "So Hell will be synonymous with the here and now of our present", the narrator Zeitblom tells us while he is huddled as bombs are falling from the sky during WW2.
This opening line is the metaphor for a story that relates the life of Leverkuhn with the rise of Nazism and Barbarism. Young Adrian is like any child. When he grows up he decides to study theology, but abandons theology associated with humanism to study music. Not the music of Beethoven, but 12 tone music based on mathematical permutations, which is aesthetically beautiful, but emotional cold.
At first glance, one might see little connection to the story of Leverkühn and the fate of the German nation. After all, the composer does not participate or even care about politics. In fact, he isolates himself for the sake of his art. His pride and narcissism demand he create great music that has never been heard before. However, he lacks the inspiration to do so. Adrian's emotional coldness and intellectual sterility leads him to take drastic measures. He makes a pact with the devil or is it his syphilis that makes him dream he signed such a pact?
Whether real or not, it reflects the pact any population makes when it decides not take things into its own hands, but relies on others to do so for them. The film reflects very well Leverkühn's spiritual fall and the physical corruption of his body. What it somehow fails to do is emphasis the references to Nazism which are more numerous in the novel and which would help the viewer more closely connect Leverkuhn's life to the national disaster of fascist Germany. A superb criticism of modern narcissism, where individuals are more concerned with themselves, their everyday lives rather than with fate of others and humanity.
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