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Portiere di notte


Set in 1957, in a Viennese hotel, Max (Dirk Bogarde) keeps a calculatedly low-profile as a Nazi war criminal in-hiding. When the wife of an opera conductor (Lucia, played by Charlotte Rampling) enters the hotel, through the alternate flashbacks of them both we learn that they once participated in a union during the war; she as a prisoner and he as her tormentor in an unnamed concentration camp. Slowly, through a number of devices (both allegorical and cinematic) Cavani reveals Max and Lucia's co-dependency in the camp, the sadomasochism of their encounters, and the manner in which the war unleashed behaviors that in another time they would have found abhorrent. Functioning therefore as a quasi-analytic appraisal of the victim/torturer dynamic (which the director contests is latent in us all) the audience is then taken to the end point of degradation and endurance as Max and Lucia relive their past, first in secrecy and then under imminent threat from a cell of ex-Nazis that are seeking to erase their collective past and any witnesses that remain. Drawing heavily upon the director's fascination with German Expressionist cinema of the Weimar period and revealing several allegorical strands through her quotation from multiple works of cabaret, theatre, opera, and ballet, the film succeeds where many other Holocaust movies fail - that is, by not seeking to prove that we have conquered fascism but to show that it still lives in our midst. Described by the Time Out Film Guide as an operatic celebration of sexual disgust, The Night Porter has been unfortunately aligned with a wide range of scandalous and scandalising films of the late twentieth-century. To see the film as a mere exercise in affronting public decency is, however, to miss the point altogether. Indeed, such a reading has much more to do with the way the film was marketed by its American distributor than it does with the film itself.
Date Added: 10/31/2012 by salome
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