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The Ogre

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Editorial Reviews

A French prisoner of war, Abel Tiffauges ends up in far away East Prussia. He experiences the land and its life as a romantic adventure whether as factotum for the Reichsjagermeister, the Imperial Master Hunter Goering or as the minder of over 400 young men in Kaltenborn Castle.

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Malkovich
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: July 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PMGS7C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,251 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 12, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This strange and original work is a French film about Nazi Germany done in English. There are no subtitles. Director Volker Schlondorff is German, the screenplay is by veteran French writer Jean-Claude-Carriere, who has scores of films to his credit including Bell de Jour (1967) and Valmont (1989), and the star is the American, John Malkovich, who plays a French simpleton named Abel Tiffauges who ends up as a servant in Field Marshall Herman Goering's hunting estate during World War II, and then later in a Hitler youth academy for boys.

Malkovich's Abel is enormously sympathetic because he has suffered but harbors no bitterness, because he genuinely loves children, and because he has a certain magic about him based on his childish belief that somehow he will survive any catastrophe. In a boy's home as a child he survives the brutality of a proto Goering-like fat boy, and then later as an auto mechanic he overcomes a false accusation of child molestation. Both of these little stories are vividly rendered and seem entirely realistic. Then begins Abel's war time adventures, and it is here that the story becomes, as some have observed, something of a fairy tale. Abel is able to leave his barracks at the prison to wander about where he meets a blind moose and then a German army officer at a deserted cabin in the woods. This leads to his being established at Goering's hunting estate, and from there to the Hitler youth academy where he is treated as a privileged servant. We see the Nazis as just another part of the bizarre personages of his world.

The depiction of Goering as a kind of self-indulgent Nero, living in opulence as the world burns, seemed entirely believable.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By "geminijef" on November 30, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Unfortunately, The Ogre was not released in the U.S. (as far as i know). I was fortunate enough to see it back in 1996 while in Europe. The film is one of the most incredible portrayals of humanity and the usually tepid John Malkovich rises uncharacteristically to the occassion, giving an incredible performance.
Malkovich plays an ignorant man, Abel, living in a small town at the dawn of the Nazi movement. He seems to be mentally slow, but emotionally heightened as he has a great passion for the vitality of the children in the town. He is fond of photographing, especially children. However, due to a mis-understanding, because the people of the small town are so ignorant and afraid of the quiet lumbering Abel, he is sentenced to jail (undeservedly) for the crime of molesting a child. He is transferred to help with the war effort in France, and eventually comes to work for the Nazi party, "recruiting" children for the cause, in part due to his ability to relate with the kids. He, however, does not seem to know what the Nazis stand for, or why he shouldn't be taking in children. He cares for the children as if they were his own, and is eventually persecuted for harbouring a young Jewish boy, which is when he begins to realise the ramifications of his plight.
A brilliantly scripted film with a very interesting study of disparity and what it means to be good or evil. A must see.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Paul Emmons on February 19, 2003
Format: DVD
_Pace_ the anonymous Los Angelino who dismissed this film on the basis of a few morbid/vaguely scatalogical moments, this is one of my favorite movies.
These moments are few and mild compared both to the original book _Roi des Aulnes_ by Michel Tournier (where I'd agree that they are overdone, without disputing the critical consensus that this is a rather great modern novel) and to the director's earlier film "The Tin Drum". Here Schlondorff should be congratulated for his restraint. He seems determined to tell a story with beauty and artistry-- portraying the charms of Nazified Germany not in alien black and white but in the beguiling living color with which its citizens actually had to contend-- rather than depending upon shock value.
Abel, the protagonist, combines three images from literature or folklore: ogre, Erlkoenig, and Saint Christopher. Similar to a pied piper, the Erlkoenig is a mysterious horseman who entices and carries children away from home, described in a poem by Goethe and in one of Schubert's most famous songs. (The film also alludes to the pied piper himself with a scene in which Abel plays a pipe to seven boys before bringing them into the castle). The ogre is a man-eating monster who is stupid and almost blind but has a keen sense of smell. Saint Christopher, the flip side of the Erlkoenig, was also known for carrying a child-- but in this case valiantly. The salient characteristics of all three figures are reflected in many details in the film.
With regard to the title figure, however, little in either the screenplay or Malkovitch's characterization suggets that Abel is feeble-minded. He is a reader, a skilled auto mechanic, and comfortably bilingual. Herein lies the clue, as I see it, to the message that our Angeleno can't find.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dark Mechanicus JSG on October 19, 2003
Format: DVD
Is a man's character forged at birth, in his genes---or is it determined by his experiences, by his loves, by his ambitions, by his will? What is the difference between a man and a child? Why is the dreamworld common to a child's playtime any more---or less---real than the often nightmarish, brutal 'reality' common to grown-ups?
These are questions that Volker Schlondorff's fine, haunting, surreal and compulsively watchable "The Ogre" spends a great deal of time with, though Schlondorff is far too subltle and skilled a craftsman to beat the viewer over the head with these things---at least, until the movie's final minutes, which felt oddly ham-handed (given what had preceded them) and grafted on to a film that devotes itself to the mysteries, secret fantasies, and occasional horrors of childhood.
"The Ogre" mixes a very modern evil, Nazi Germany, with a very ancient one, the legend of the Ogre (known in Germany as the Erl-Konig, the horrible "Erl-King"), stirs them together in Schlondorff's black cauldron, and produces a potent, visually haunting witche's brew indeed. The movie chronicles the short, bizarre, and strangely happy life of Abel Tiffauges(played brilliantly by John Malkovich), a Frenchman who strikes up easy friendships with children, chiefly because he himself is in many ways a child: innocent, simple but not simplistic, drawn to myths and fairy tales and ripping yarns of adventure in the Canadian wilderness---and especially the silly faces and scary spook voices that endear him to his young friends and, as "The Ogre" progresses, his charges.
Wrongfully accused of attacking a young girl, Abel is spared prison by the outbreak of World War II, and agrees to join the army to fight the Germans.
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