Review of The Night Porter (1974)
Seen in 2017.
In 1957, a group of German war criminals have decided to absolve themselves of their past offences through mock trials and the “filing” away of surviving witnesses under psychoanalytic pretenses. One of them doubts the method.
Limited by romanticism. The plot, with its therapy group and Lager-like siege, obviously isn’t credible. A credible alternative to it would have had to cast more light on the Stockholm syndrome and personal romance aspects of the premise. This in turn could easily have damaged Cavani’s purposeful ambiguity, which isn’t necessarily superficial. The character of Bert seems especially crucial to her “Nazi chic” vision of the SS as doomed by association with decadent theatricality and ambiguous sexuality, as much as by their historic crimes. This being said, a more realistic story of postwar love between warden and prisoner is no more appealing.