1957 year. A former Nazi and a former concentration camp prisoner accidentally meet in a Vienna hotel. The awakened memories of both the executioner and the victim kindle a strange, unnatural attraction between them, which the psychoanalyst would call sadomasochism.
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In 1973, an ugly Italian woman showed the world something unimaginable. She made all the singers of romance, once standing on Parisian barricades and filming stories about women smelling of the best French perfume, meekly giving their love to imposing men in tight black coats, choke on Guy Debord’s slogans and Leo’s manifestos. She, a student of the great homosexual and aristocrat Visconti, created a pathological history of painful attachment on the rubble of neorealism, having removed the Italian version of Lelyushev’s legend. Her name is a paraphrase of the aesthetic and decadent noir of the solar heiress of Rome. She is Liliana Cavani, who, with her debut tape, whipped respectable Europe on her tender cheeks, and, without fear, spoke about fascism through the prism of a bright sexual fetish.
Filtered, devoid of a militant character German National Socialism, discouraging by the shameless beauty of SS-Soviet paraphernalia, which Cavani, following the Finnish artist provocateur Tom of Finland, endowed with a clear sado-masochistic subtext, made The Night Porter an ideological epatage of the 70s, challenging the society , who does not want to recognize “pathology” for sincere feelings and real-life memories of prisoners of concentration camps and Gestapo torture chambers. For many years, Cavani collected material, met with women who experienced a strong pornographic addiction to the German officers who mocked them, read the testimonies of participants and eyewitnesses. And by 1973, she brought into the world a two-hour confession of passion choking with hopelessness.
The style of the picture is like clear glass. There are no unnecessary heroes, too long scenes and post-industrial chatter. There are only two – a man and a woman, cursed by history and their own past. The German SS-sovets who escaped the tribunal with a difficult to pronounce surname and as if born to him as a Jew is a Semitic “princess” destined to become his little demon, Lolita, Solomeya … a curse.
The beauty Lucia, who has survived and has forgotten almost everything, meets her reflection in an Austrian hotel, a transparent catalyst of an unhealthy attraction. This time, the antidote in the form of the composer’s husband does not work, recognition is too scary, too incredible a coincidence. In an inconspicuous night clerk, with a tired gait and restless hands, a neurasthenic monster is still sleeping, in love with extravagant photographs of his Jewish Marlene. His life is a petty “rat fuss” to which he is accustomed, having made a forced compromise with fate, replacing a bright fascist biography with a real opportunity to escape punishment by agreeing to live in a stuffy hotel underground. Angels are silent, and memory, giving the past the green light, gives a daring attempt to return, the only opportunity to resurrect those times immemorial. After many years, to become the same without experiencing disappointment and a feeling of emptiness – it is worth a lot … It is worth all the dreams in which he again and again, without taking off his leather gloves, hits her on the unprotected face, bluish from hungry pallor, all the shots crumbling the tiles near her bare legs. Dream, feelings, life and death are units of inconstant magnitude, and their dangerous proximity has a tart taste of shame, which Max speaks about only once on the roof of a Viennese high-rise building to the same whitewashed Nuremberg and the devil knows what ships to his comrades.
Throughout the film, they will remember. And their memories will be absurd and relative, because Cavani, rejecting a simple chronicle of what is happening, gives the viewer an opportunity to look at the past through the personal awareness of the heroes of Bogard and Rempling of the past. But memory deceives the viewer after them, leading along the winding paths of delusions, distorts the hitherto really existed. From that, the concentration camp looks more like a Hungarian psychiatric clinic, and the SS-Sovtsy are like the chosen ancient Gods who love the sculptural plasticity of dancers and the exquisite dishes of a Jewish cook. Max’s black form in these daytime dreams is deeply saturated, monochrome, and therefore unreliable. All who inhabit the closed unreality of a lost life are only ghosts of a long-dead world in which there is no time, space, where everything is conditional. Scenes from the camp “hobby” of Max and Lucia are drowsy, painted in transparent cold death tones, when, as their present is contrasting and mobile, there is no longer the biblical doom of the past in it, but there is a banal danger of real existence.
Cavani’s fascism is apolitical. This is a pagan myth of the twentieth century with its servants, executioners and their victims, making ritual offerings not to war and the regime, but to their perverted sexuality. But the heroes of Cavani’s film miscalculated, they are drawn to each other, when everything has already changed, the war is over, and it is not possible to relive everything that happened âthereâ. This vulgar mutual dependence is burdensome, and they are left with a consolation memory, carefully preserving their “former”. She wears a black cap and leather gloves on her skinny hands, he is in a sleek German uniform. This is their little sun in the ancient sea of ââthe past frozen to the bottom.
There are almost no dialogues between the main characters, they act on the basis of an unconscious, instinctive connection that arose between them at the moment when Max’s hand camera first noticed among the crowd of Jews in a concentration camp, naked dystrophic Lucia, illuminating her narrow cold face with the bright light of a lamp. Since that fabulous day, he has been obsessed with “his girl”, her ribs and sharp knees. He is a voluntary prisoner of this thin, narrow-hipped creature, once tamed by him an animal that has not forgotten its master, having gone through hundreds of years, through thousands of lives and millions of cities. Someone in those concentration camp nights blessed them for this beautiful self-destruction.
“The Night Porter” is a cult film, imbued with the piercing sadness of a tragic and hopeless anguish. The main words sound very quiet in him, and the heroes pronounce them hastily, gasping for breath, breaking with themselves, committing an inner sacred suicide. He screams, tangling his fingers in her hair that has grown over these fifteen years, about feelings that she will never be able to experience. She – remembering in small details the day of her death – is flawed, robbed and destroyed by the war and its priests. And everything that happens between them in Max’s small apartment is the dying convulsions of a dying madness that lasts an endlessly long and endlessly deeply corroded her world, his consciousness, their life and memory. They found themselves in an absolute meaningless emptiness, and it remains only to remember that once they had everything – a semblance of happiness, at home, their own black moon, flooding and poisoning blood, and something else that is customary to be silent about. It’s scary, it’s ambiguous, and it was worth making a movie about.
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (59.4 Mb/s)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
German: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
English: Dolby Digital 2.0