The Night Porter

Liliana Cavani, Italy/USA, 1974, 117 minutes

Liliana Cavani, Italy's most famous female filmmaker, wrote and directed The Night Porter, one of the most controversial films of the 1970s. The time is 1957, the setting is Vienna. Max (Dirk Bogarde) is a respectable night porter at a luxury hotel. A former Nazi officer, he relieves his guilt by devoting himself obsessively to his work. One day, however, his dark past catches up with him when he glimpses Lucia Atherton (Charlotte Rampling) in the hotel lobby. She was a former concentration camp inmate and also his lover. Uncontrollably drawn to each other, it's not long before they revert back to the sado-masochistic relationship they enjoyed during the war. Lucia abandons her husband and Max gives up his job. Their future is uncertain, surrounded as they are by Max's bloodthirsty Nazi friends.

This is an imprortant film that cannot be easily dismissed. Psychologically complex, it focuses on a side of human nature and an aspect of history that many would prefer to ignore. One thing is for certain - once you've seen this film you'll not forget it in a hurry.

Review by Stephen Townsend
Taken from EUFS Programme 1992-93