Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Unseen #9: The Damned

Why’d I Buy It?: I don’t know Visconti outside of his canonical films. But I know enough about him, to grab one of his films for five bucks.

Why Haven’t I Watched It?: A two hour forty minute drama about the horrors of Nazi Germany isn’t something you turn on casually.

How Was It?: The Damned begins just as the Nazi’s rise to power. Following the fortunes of an aristocratic industrial family, whose steel mills are essential to the Nazi war machine. They find it all too easy to fall in bed with the Nazi’s, sometimes literally. The film begins in opulence and wealth, and two and a half hours of incest, child molesting, concentration camps, and gay massacres later all that is left is an overpowering desire to take a shower.

In terms of style, the film is beautiful. Visconti captures the decadence and opulence of people at the height of power doing the best to destroy themselves utterly.

The problem is, that’s all the film is. Basically a compendium of horrible people doing terrible things. It all might work grandly as a metaphor, but that doesn’t make it anymore pleasant to watch. And yes I’m aware that great art need not be pleasant, and if this were purely satirical, and say directed by Bunuel I would have no argument about the movie being a mere cavalcade of grotesqueries. But The Damned lacks even the slightest bit of rooting interest, necessary to make it a drama.

And yes, I realize that that means, I’ve given negative reviews to both Altman and Visconti films, while writing a positive one of Rob Zombie’s Halloween "Fucking" II. And yes that might actually mean as a result I’m going to film geek hell. But I’ve got to call them like I see them.

Anyway if you want to see the classiest film about Nazi’s committing all manner of atrocities This is it.

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