The Night Porter

1973, Movie, R, 117 mins

Review

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Filmmaker Liliana Cavani visited a Nazi concentration camp after WW II and interviewed a woman who had been involved in a sadomasochistic relationship with a guard, then made her story the basis for this powerful, sometimes ponderous film. Bogarde stars as the night porter in a Viennese hotel in 1958. His duties go far beyond the usual for a man in his position, since the hotel guests--former Nazis--and the proprietress enjoy being sadistically "dealt with" by the night porter, an ex-storm trooper. All believe they have managed to eliminate any witnesses to their war crimes. Although Bogarde himself is about to go on trial, he too thinks he's safe, until Rampling and her husband check in. Bogarde recognizes Rampling as a former concentration camp prisoner of whom he took photographs while pretending to be a physician. That's not all, however; the picture flashes forward and back to show past episodes of rape, sodomy, and torture between the two--episodes Rampling apparently enjoyed. She and Bogarde rekindle their unusual love, but the other hotel residents are determined to stop them. A strange and unforgettable picture that questions deeply the psyches of torturers and the tortured, THE NIGHT PORTER presents its psychoanalytically provocative material without exploitation. The subject, however, was apparently too strong for most audiences, who never took to it. (In English.) leave a comment

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