Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Damned

The Night Porter (1974) - Cavani *rewatch*
Max (Dirk Bogarde) is a night porter at a hotel and a former nazi SS officer. He runs into one of his former concentration camp captives, beautiful Lucia (Charlotte Rampling), as she is now a wife of an opera conductor visiting Germany. Lucia is understandably upset and avoids contacts with Max. He pursues her and they once more fall into a sadomasochistic relationship.

Unlike other former nazi officer friends who have regular meetings to free themselves from the past by interrogating each other, have mockup trials to acquit themselves and 'file away witnesses' of their crimes (group therapy turning into rogue, neo-nazi criminal organization), Max knows he is damned forever and doesn't try to hide his contempt. His attitude makes him and the witness (Lucia) targets. The pair becomes prisoners in Max's small apartment and have their master/slave, protector/little girl existence until their food runs out.

Young Rampling is radiant and seductive and Bogarde svelt. Marvel at the scene where Lucia's does Marlene Dietrich redux in the screencap above. Plus, there are two amazingly erotic scenes taking place in Max's apartment- their first physical encounter after the war in one long take and the strawberry jam scene, as they are almost starving to death. Acting in those scenes are mindboggling. Night Porter became the unwitting trailblazer for slew of Nazisploitation movies to come. But its attractions are a somber condemnation of war past and tragic love story which is as intense as it gets.