***/**** Image A- Sound A-
starring Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Griem, Helmut Berger
screenplay by Nicola Badalucco, Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti
directed by Luchino Visconti
by Travis Mackenzie Hoover It's hard to know what to think of a film as divided against itself as Luchino Visconti's The Damned. A portrait of corrupted aristocracy during the Nazi era that drags in sensational elements unrelated to its stated subject matter, it feels like a tabloid exposé in that it's more fascinated than critical of what it claims to repudiate. But once you get past the kink factor of jet-black uniforms and transvestite SA gatherings, you see what's really on Visconti's mind: an examination of how the privileged class was headed off at the pass by a fascist movement that rose from the lower orders. It's a weird smash-up between Visconti's class loyalties and his Nazi tormentors, and if their implications don't exactly impress, they make for a fairly absorbing exercise in rise-and-fall horror.