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Liliana Cavani
Dirk Bogarde, Charlotte Rampling, Philippe Leroy
Liliana Cavani, Italo Moscati
A concentration camp survivor rekindles her sadomasochistic relationship with her lover, a former SS officer - now working as a night porter at a Vienna hotel - but his former Nazi associates begin stalking them.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 12/9/2014

• ďWomen of the ResistanceĒ Documentary
• Interview with Director Liliana Cavani
• Booklet


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The Night Porter: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2021)

From 1974, The Night Porter offers an unusual take on a topic related to Nazi Germany. The film takes place in post-war Vienna.

Ex-Nazi officer Max (Dirk Bogarde) works at a local hotel as a porter on the night shift. When a party returns to the hotel from a concert, Max recognizes the conductor's wife.

She is Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) and as we see in flashbacks she was a prisoner in a concentration camp where Max was located. While there, the two had a sadomasochistic relationship together.

Max would shoot at her as she ran around the room, make strange love in front of the other prisoners, hurt each other and whatnot. Max becomes overcome by these thoughts of the past, as does Lucia, who experiences traumatic flashbacks. This re-encounter leads to a mix of complications, as the past comes back to haunt both characters.

Porter has been accused of "sensationalizing" the holocaust but I don't know if I really see that. Their relationship feels wrong on many levels and the holocaust becomes presented more to show the absolute sickness of it and also give us a sort of reason for it to begin.

However, it never really seems clear why this sadistic relationship happens between the two. You can guess but the film never makes it obvious.

One can assume Max engages in these antics due to the basic masochism so typical of many Nazis. Luciaís motivations feel less recognizable.

Though initially reluctant, Lucia eventually embraces the abusive relationship. The movie never really presents anything to explain Lucia's actions or behavior

Director Liliana Cavani starts off the film as a character study but then turns it into more of a love story - a sick one, but a love story nonetheless. Since the characters donít feel like the romantic types, that feeling does not suit them.

Despite ample dramatic potential, Porter never turns as thought-provoking and as disturbing a movie as it wants to be. Its look at Nazi culture and human behavior doesnít feel too deep with only a few interesting points. Though never boring, the film lacks the impact it needs.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Night Porter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a respectable but not especially impressive presentation.

Admittedly, I suspect the nature of the source played a large role in this, as the 47-year-old project almost certainly always offered a gritty experience. Still, the end result seemed a bit more dull than Iíd have anticipated.

For the most part, sharpness seemed fine. Occasional shots came across as a bit soft, but the majority of the film appeared reasonably concise, if not razor-sharp.

No issues with jagged edges or moirť effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. With ample grain, noise reduction didnít become a concern, and source defects remained minor. I saw a few instances of gate hairs/debris but no other specks or marks appeared.

Colors leaned toward a bland, dreary palette, with a distinct emphasis on a sickly green much of the time. I guess this reflected the source, but the hues seemed lackluster nonetheless.

Blacks were acceptably deep Ė though a bit inky Ė while shadows offered decent delineation, with a few moderately soft shots along the way. Ultimately, this was a pretty blah image, albeit one that may represent the source.

Similar thoughts greeted the adequate LPCM monaural soundtrack of Night Porter. Music showed reasonable range, though the score lacked particularly good impact.

Effects fell into the same domain. These components came across as acceptably accurate and didnít suffer from much distortion, though they didnít have a lot to do in this character piece.

Speech varied due to the nature of the production. Some lines offered dialogue recorded on the set, but plenty of looping occurred as well, and the two didnít tend to connect smoothly.

Because the track mixed/matched original and dubbed material so much, this made the looped lines even more noticeable. All remained intelligible, but speech tended to sound a bit flat. In the end, the audio felt fine for a movie of this oneís vintage and ambitions but it didnít rise above that level.

A few extras appear here, and we get an Interview with Director Liliana Cavani. Recorded in 2014, this eight-minute, 33-second reel features Cavaniís thoughts about casting, photography, some production choices, and reactions to the film.

Expect a decent array of thoughts here. Unfortunately, the interview spans too little time to offer lots of insights, so its brevity acts as a flaw.

From 1965, Women of the Resistance provides a TV documentary created by Cavani After a four-minute, 55-second introduction from the director, the program runs 49 minutes, 56 seconds.

Cavaniís intro gives us background for the project, and Resistance itself covers the role of Italian women during World War II. Focused mainly around interviews from the actual participants, this becomes an involving program.

Finally, we get a booklet. This mixes art, credits, an essay by scholar Gaetana Marrone, and an excerpt from a 1975 interview with Cavani. It becomes a satisfactory addition to the package.

With The Night Porter, we find an unusual take on material related to the Holocaust, though the end result does not especially satisfy. The film itself offers nothing more than a mediocre thriller and not the lavish, controversial character study it wants to become. The Blu-ray offers adequate picture and audio along with a few bonus features. Though it occasionally seems intriguing, the end result feels lackluster.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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