Sound: B- Extras: C- Film: C-
Can you have a film about the final days or Adolf Hitler
and Eva Braun that can take a look at them without making them
sympathetic? Aleksandr Sokurov, who
received an amazing amount of attention for simply doing his digital High
Definition project Russian Ark (2002) in one take, tries and fails in Moloch
(1999), which turns out to be the first of a trilogy about the original Axis Of
Evil. Solntse, about Emperor
Hirohito, is due in 2005, while Telets (aka Taurus, 2001) tells
of Lenin’s last days. We’ll look at
those later. Now, this film.
It is hard to play Hitler and Leonid Mosgovoi does look
and moves like him somewhat, but he is a bit off in parts and is not convincing
enough as he could have been. In the
place of any failures, he comes across as disturbingly too nice, that his
madness is reduced one too many times to grumpiness and/or confusion as he
loses his mental facilities. The
opening scene of Braun (Elena Rufanova) posing nude for her Fuhrer from a
distance on the terrace of their mountain hideout (and his headquarters) The
Eagle’s Nest, he watches with a viewing device as we hear the bombs of war
going off far away. It is eerie that
they are safe and engaged in this wacky fetishistic scopophilia while people
fight and are being exterminated. The
film goes straight down here form there.
Do we really need to know the interior thoughts and
feelings about the couple in their final years? They were bastards to the end, so that they have any moral
redemption inside is absurd, but the film’s very premise and supposed
exploration invites this. As I watched,
I hoped this would change, but it did not.
There was no surprise, no ironic distance from the couple, and this is
not to say that only being reactionary is the way to deal with this history,
but let’s get serious. Any film that
tries to get into the human interior of elite people responsible for such
horror is revisionist history, even a sincere attempt as this film is. Sokurov and company are in a lose/lose
situation and Moloch is simply a very bad idea and even more poorly
realized film. The title is so symbolic
of young sacrifice, that the pretension just adds insult to injury.
The letterboxed 1.66 X 1 image is fuzzier than usual, but
is supposedly shot on Kodak film stocks.
Co-cinematographers Aleksei Fyodorov (see Tycoon reviewed
elsewhere on this site) and Anatoli Rodionov (in his feature debut work)
deliver a good-looking film that feels like it is happening in Hitler’s mountain
retreat. Sokurov took over
cinematography on those sequels, which does not sound good, because this is the
best aspect of the film artistically, including the costumes and production
design. This would look better on film
or anamorphically enhanced certainly, something that can be done with the 1.66
X 1 image. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
is from the Dolby analog SR theatrical sound and sounds somewhat as good as
that, with healthy enough surrounds.
Extras include a trailer, making-of featurette and interview with
Sokurov that shows how much trouble he was really having with the subject
matter. Can the next films in the
series be this bad? We’ll see.
- Nicholas Sheffo