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The Night Porter (The Criterion Collection) (1974)

Charlotte Rampling , Dirk Bogarde , Liliana Cavani  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charlotte Rampling, Dirk Bogarde, Philippe Leroy, Gabriele Ferzetti
  • Directors: Liliana Cavani
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Letterboxed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: March 28, 2000
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022823
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,111 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Night Porter (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New widescreen digital transfer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In Liliana Cavani's scintillating drama, a concentration camp survivor (Charlotte Rampling) discovers her ex-torturer/lover (Dirk Bogarde) working as a night porter at a hotel in postwar Vienna. When the couple attempt to re-create their sadomasochistic relationship, his former SS comrades begin to stalk them. Operatic and disturbing, The Night Porter deftly examines the cruelty and decadence of Nazi culture.

For those who like their love stories dipped in decadence, Liliana Cavani's dark and disturbing 1974 drama--about a concentration camp survivor who fatefully comes face to face with her ex-Nazi captor and lover--has held up quite well over the years despite its sensationalistic tone. It helps that the mysterious, cobra-eyed Charlotte Rampling plays the survivor, Lucia, and that the unctuous and languid British actor, Dirk Bogarde, is former SS officer Max, a now-benign night porter at the Vienna hotel where the pair coincidentally collides. There is a haunted hollowness to these characters that resigns them to relive the sordid past that tragically binds them. Criterion's DVD offers the film in its best available condition, and the color has been restored to enhance its symbolic significance. The Night Porter uses landscape as character, and its desaturated tones evoke memory of the Holocaust and a shady 1950s Vienna plagued by post-World War II guilt. In fact, this is a film full of shadows and shame, and Max and Lucia are victims of this frightening world in which nothing can be trusted and around every corner lurk spies in their house of forbidden love. --Paula Nechak

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
168 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly depraved and utterly fascinating January 25, 2004
"The Night Porter" must have been one of those films that shocked people when it first came out. Directed by Liliana Cavani and sporting a garish cover on the Criterion Collection DVD (yes, the cover image does come from a scene in the movie, but not in the way you would think), "The Night Porter" deals with extremely unpleasant psychological situations stemming from the holocaust. The film is definitely not for everyone, but those capable of keeping an open mind may find much to like about this generally repulsive piece of art house cinema. You have to hand it to Criterion for continuing to release pristine transfers of films considered anathema to mainstream audiences. My experiences with this DVD company have introduced me to such wondrous delights as "Blood for Dracula," "Man Bites Dog," "Peeping Tom," "Hearts and Minds," and several other challenging titles. My only gripe with Criterion concerns the cost of their DVDs, which often seem quite high even for such great movies.
"The Night Porter" is about a night porter working in a fancy hotel in Vienna, Austria twelve years after the end of World War II. If the movie merely touched on the surface aspects involving night portering, it would be a dull affair indeed. How to make a film delving into the multifaceted fascinations of checking in luggage, or taking phone calls from irate customers? No, "The Night Porter" has little to do with the hotel industry and much to do with a hideous relationship between two tortured souls. The night porter at this particular hotel, Max Aldorfer (Dirk Bogarde), was once an SS officer assigned to a concentration camp where he tortured and killed inmates.
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few words to add to J. Leach's excellent review August 15, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Jeffrey Leach has written an extraordinarily insightful review of "The Night Porter," and I just want to add a few lines, as otherwise I'd just be repeating him. I recommend that anyone trying to understand this film read his review for help with the extremely difficult territory it explores.

For those who find the film to be exploitive or perverse (in an unrealistic way), please remember that we now know, as a result of so much information gathered regarding the sexuality of children who were abused during their formative years, that if a girl, young and inexperienced as Rampling's Lucia was when she was in the concentration camp, finds the right combination of emotional tenderness (as in Max's kissing of her wounded arm) and sexual stimulation/initiation, these experiences become so deeply imprinted as to be easily re-awakened in adulthood. After the intensity of such experiences, "normal" sexuality can seem dead and flat, not at all a match for the earlier times of dis-inhibtion. While this may be difficult and even offensive for those who have no similar touchstone of experience, psychologically it is accurate--frighteningly so--and "The Night Porter" shows us just how far it can go. When Lucia puts on the little girl's dress she's purchased, the image is jarring but sums up the truth of her stunted psychological and sexual development. We end up wondering whether she ever had a passionate moment with her oh-so-normal husband. With the experiences of the camp having been the most intense and indelible of her life, how could she not seek to re-create them?
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not likely to pop up late night on TBS. May 16, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Despite the misleading cover photo, this is not another stab at exploitive and kitschy WW2 sick humor a la "Ilsa:She-Wolf of the SS", but a far more ambitious and artful work of cinema. Disturbing and repulsive, yet quite compelling, "The Night Porter" brilliantly uses a depiction of sado-masochism and pycho-sexual politics as an effective allusion to the horror of Hitler's Germany. Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling are both broodingly decadent as a former SS officer and concentration camp survivor, respectively, who end up in a twisted, doomed relationship years after the war. You would have to search high and low to find two braver performances than Bogarde and Rampling give in this complex story (Harvey Keitel and Holly Hunter in "The Piano" comes the closest). Like the film "Seven Beauties", the "sex" you think you're watching is really a subliminal lesson on the ugly politics of facism and oppression. Obviously, this is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but recommended for any cinema buff up for a challenge.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange, compelling, impossible to forget. February 17, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie in the summer of 1973 and now, 26 years later, I still remember it. Disturbing, with strong sexuality and some violence, it made me think about the ties that bind abusers and victims. The glass-eating scene, and the scene in the cabaret (with the severed head) were, at the same time, shocking and impossible to turn away from. This movie is, by turns, slow, shocking, and sad, but it is by no means boring. A good choice if you want to investigate the outer edge of the human psyche.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Vile, dull, boring
I have the Criterion Collection DVD and am not about to buy the Blu-Ray edition. I find this film very dull as well as brutal and sadistic. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Jim Tarleton
4.0 out of 5 stars True cult classic.
If you usually like cult classics you'll probably like this. I did.
Published 16 days ago by Making History
4.0 out of 5 stars Run time for Blu-ray is incorrect
The Amazon specs for the Blu-ray states a run time of 113 min.
Not true. Criterion's site says the Blu-ray is the full 118 min.
Published 24 days ago by CajunSammich
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it before they ban it
Pretty much everyone has heard of Stockholm Syndrome but it's companion is allegedly Lima Syndrome, wherein a captor feels empathy towards his victims. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Angela Hamon
4.0 out of 5 stars The BluRay is worth the price, even with it's flaws
I first saw this film in a theater 40 years ago. It haunted me then, and as the years went by and the video age unfolded I considered getting it on VHS tape at one time but the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. Pequod
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked this film
This film delivers the viewer into an abyss. You don't necessary like where it's going, but your not about to miss it either. A deep and dark film. Ups the anxiety level to ten.
Published 11 months ago by dan
5.0 out of 5 stars Different And Mysterious
A 1957 Vienna secret society of sadistic former nazi SS officers fear what one member and his beautiful concentration camp ex-lover may do. Read more
Published 15 months ago by mr. contrarian
5.0 out of 5 stars Forever Fascinating...
It's mid '70s - My boyfriend & I w/no place to go for Thanksgiving - went to the movies. Watched whatever was being shown. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kandy Langford
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
This is one of the great mysteries of the human spirit and morality of choices with Rampling and Bogarde terrific
Published 16 months ago by Myles Ludwig
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good actors
The combination Dirk Bogard and Charlotte Rampling was interesting, I liked the performances.An unusual ¿love story?, very strange and sad at the end of the film.
Published 19 months ago by María Guadalupe Galván Sánchez
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