The Damned (1969)
Critic Reviews for The Damned
A spectacle of such greedy passion, such uncompromising sensation, and such obscene shock that it makes you realize how small and safe and ordinary most movies are.
Even if somewhat remarkable in scope as a Nazi decadence pic, it's all so ponderous and repulsive."
By boldly confronting the psycho-sexual depravity of the Nazi mindset, all the way through to is inevitable incestuous nature, Visconti creates a specific cinematic vernacular for viewing and discussing Hitler's manic ideology.
Audience Reviews for The Damned
The first half is fascinating, showing the depravity of the rising Nazism reflected on the decay of the Essenbeck family. After that, however, it seems like Visconti doesn't want to conclude his story, and so he goes on indefinitely in an endless soap-opera of backstabbing and murder plots.
Not only the generalized victims suffered during pre-WW2, everyone suffered. Even the bourgeois class suffered. The Damned gives us a perspective not very unlike movies like "The Night Porter, Mr.Klein and Mepisto", kind of the same essence are being absorbed. The cold innerself, lost in the shell of a sharp dressed appearance, until the mind gets lost into the absurd seriousness of the fall of a nation, an empire and nearly the whole world. Hollow, empty and meaningless alongside the strive for class, lust and pleasure. Intoxicated gay nazi's are being slaughtered, not sadisticly but relentless. Visconti beating Pasolini with 6 years of settling onto the sadistic nazi/fascistic empire.
In 1930s Germany, the aristocratic Von Essenbeck clan struggles amidst the Nazi regime to retain control over an industrial empire, while the family members react with varying degrees of compliance. This lengthy, ponderous drama lacks the slam-bam action that one might expect from a Nazi-themed film -- in fact, there is really only one violent scene. Nor is hatred toward Jews a strong motif. No, this tale is more about corruption and betrayal within the ruling Germans themselves, both between the Von Essenbecks and the Nazis and between the rival SS and SA factions of the national army. Along the way, the script's treats include occasional pedophilia, incest, suicide, transvestitism, homosexuality and a mild orgy (hence the film's initial X rating), as well as one of cinema's most unromantic wedding scenes ever. However, be prepared to weather plenty of dour, sluggish dialogue. The filmmaking is masterful beyond a somewhat florid score which seems unsubtle at times, but there is one important problem: The cast includes three or four male actors with similar feminine, blue-eyed, high-cheekboned features, and it requires extra work to avoid being confused by these characters' interwoven plots. Watch closely. Note to xenophobics: You might be surprised to learn "The Damned" is almost entirely in English.
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