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The Damned

4.1 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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(Feb 17, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

A decadent German family of great wealth wallows in its own decay as its factories produce armaments for Hitler and his followers.

Special Features

  • "Visconti" profiles the director on set

Product Details

  • Actors: Dirk Bogarde, Ingrid Thulin, Helmut Griem, Helmut Berger, Renaud Verley
  • Directors: Luchino Visconti
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000WN10O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,452 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Damned" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This astonishing if ultimately frustrating production fuses two motifs familiar from earlier Visconti works: the historical spectacular (Senso, The Leopard) and the family saga (La Terra trema, Rocco and His Brothers). But there almost any similarity with the director's early films ceases altogether. The Damned is history as Walpurgisnacht, focusing upon the peripeties of a German family of industrialists-evidently modeled upon the Krupps--whose secret repository of vices gives new meaning to the stock phrase "skeleton in the closet". On the eve of the Reichstag fire, the Von Essenbecks, owners of an important steel factory with close traditional ties to the military, gather to celebrate the birthday of the family patriarch, Joachim (Albrecht Schoenhals).
The heir to the dynasty is the elegant, amoral Martin (Helmut Berger), the only child of Joachim's son who has died in World War I and the beautiful, unscrupulous Baroness Sophie Von Essenbeck (Ingrid Thulin). Sophie is enamored of the ambitious Friedrich Bruckmann (Dirk Bogarde), and plans to use her son as a pawn to promote Friedrich's rise to power as head of the family business. Yet Sophie, in spite of her passionate love for Friedrich, is pathologically attached to Martin, who in turn has a psychopathic attraction to little girls. To guarantee the Nazis' control of the steel works, Friedrich conspires with the diabolical SS officer Aschenbach (Helmut Griem) in the killing of old Joachim, and later in the assassination of Martin's uncle Konstantin (Rene Koldehoff) during a homosexual orgy of SA followers on the Night of the Long Knives.
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Format: DVD
Directed by Luchino Visconti in 1969 (during a period of exceptional fecundity of controversial and political films) this film stars Dirk Bogard, Ingrid Thulin and Helmut Berger. This trio has an extraordinary energy which allows for powerful and brilliant tableaus throughout the film. But also these actors become an ingenious study in themselves of the already corrupted middle and upper class German life; They are mere refuse from Germany's now dying Weimar Republic.

The story begins in the first year of Hitler's new Germany, and extends through mid 1934, peaking at Hitler's betrayal and massacre of his own idealistic and loyal SA troops headed by Ernst Rhome, a man he had loved.

The essential myopia and self-aggrandizing nature of these ruthless Nazi military capitalists (the trio and their cohorts), blends well with their all pervasive lack of genuine morality. This upper crust elite, abetted by the already effective propaganda machine used by the Nazi party, paints a vivid portrait of Germany's first year adjustment and committment to the fascist state.

Hauntingly revealing of the nature of creature human's ability to not know what s/he knows. Not unlike today and the average person's minimal grasp of just what the military industrial complex is doing within this Country as well as outside this Country.

Visconti's sets are often authentic structures or painstakingly exaggerated replications. To increase the drama and sheer size of these sets, some were built with walls slanting inward to agument their huge size. The costumes are detailed, elegant and elaborate enough to add to the already dramatic story and fanciful sets.
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Format: DVD
Finally I have seen a Visconti film that approaches greatness. Besides "Rocco and His Brothers"--This is the best Visconti film I have seen to date. As another Amazon reviewer rightly noted, Visconti truly goes to Hell with this picture. Watching this film gives me cabin fever; the characters themselves seem to be sweating in fear. All of Visconti's pictures are done in a unique style--As if each of them were made by different directors. Visually "The Damned" most closely resembles "Senso". This is a great film to look at with superb costumes, expert lighting and solid performances. A highlight is Ingrid Thulin's portrayal of the scary-sexy, diabolical Sophie von Essenbeck. Thulin is a great actress, although sometimes her performance borders on caricature (which may have had more to do with Visconti's direction of her than with her interpretation of her role). Sophie's son Martin von Essenbeck (an outstanding performance by Helmut Berger) is a sexually demented drag queen who is attracted to little girls, women and probably men as well, since nothing seems to be out of bounds for this ambitious, tortured, sociopath who pragmatically grabs for power within the Nazi regime. The character of Martin von Essenbeck is a Dionysian figure representing Sexuality, Cruelty and Perversion. Through Martin, Visconti provides the viewer with a realistic depiction of pedophilia and incest. Visconti also offers up a violent, negative depiction of the gay element of the Nazi Party via the orgy execution scene--Which in 2011 would probably be referred to as homophobic, but which was ahead of its time for 1969. Factory head Konstantin von Essenbeck is portrayed by René Koldehoff, a gruff George C. Scott type (it actually sounds as if Scott did the voiceover for this role).Read more ›
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