Max (Dirk Bogarde) is a night porter in a Vienna hotel in the 1950's. When beautiful Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) checks in, they recognise each other from a terrible past; Max was an SS officer in a concentration camp who had abused and tortured her, then a teenage prisoner. Lucia is travelling with her orchestra conductor husband, but when he leaves to continue his tour, Lucia stays behind as she and Max find themselves compelled to renew their former, intense, sadomasochistic relationship. Max is a reluctant member of a group of former SS who are ruthlessly covering up their pasts. They soon consider Lucia a threat and urge Max to hand her over. He refuses and hides out with Lucia, while his former comrades exert their threats. This is the story of an obsessive passion which compels two lovers to be together despite their lucid awareness of contravening all - even their own - morality, and the certainty of their tragic destiny. Liliana Cavani's tale of passion beyond all morality or societal construct provokes overwhelming and wildly conflicting emotions.
Not a typical film about the Holocaust...
- The Night Porter review by CP Customer
I thought this was a great film - controversial and shocking but well-acted and I was engrossed till the end. The director, Liliana Cavani, had interviewed for a TV programme two women who survived the Dachau concentration camp. This inspired her to make The Night Porter - and the film explores the enduring psychological damage of Nazism even after the end of the war.
This is a dark exploration of two twisted minds brutalised by war. Charlotte Rampling, with her hooded eyes and ice-calm presence, is the beautiful victim who after the war turns the tables on her Nazi torturer in a strange act of sadomasochistic revenge. Dirk Bogarde, as in several of his films, is perfect at mixing quiet menace with sexual vulnerability. It's a perplexing story of loathing and desire but eminently watchable.
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