Mephisto

For all the retro art movie gloss recently applied to the cautionary spectacle of the pre-war rise of Nazism, there has been precious little incisive appraisal of the precise seductive allure of fascism, and certainly none to match that offered by Szabó's remarkable film. Adapted from Klaus Mann's more hysterically vindictive 1936 novel, Szabó's film delineates the self-deceiving ease with which a talented actor may rationalise the sort of radical careerist compromises that lead from committed exponency of Brecht towards impeccably Aryan readings of Goethe, and even the personal betrayals that doom friends and lovers to exile or elimination. A superbly modulated, fruitfully ambivalent central performance by Brandauer carries the emotional and intellectual weight of the political dilemma, while Szabó happily refuses to overstress the Faustian parallels of the perverse power-pact between the cultural icon and his Goebbels-like puppeteer.

Release details

Duration: 144 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Itsván Szabó
Screenwriter: Péter Dobai
Cast: Klaus Maria Brandauer
Ildikó Bánsági
Krystyna Janda
Rolf Hoppe
György Cserhalmi
Péter Andorai
Karin Boyd
David Robinson
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