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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Foreign > World War II > Moloch



Picture: C†††† 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 Leninís last days.Weíll 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 Eagleís 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 filmís 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 letís 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 Hitlerís 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?Weíll see.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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