Fascinating but not always successful. A provocative examination into the power-struggles that exist between couples, given added weight by its emphasis on the sadomasochistic relationship between a former Nazi officer & a young Jewish woman still captivated by him. Several sequences remain iconic & genuinely unforgettable, but the third act shift into symbolism abstracts rather than clarifies Cavani's point of view.
Stylish and provocative, in the way that many of these 70's European films that flirt with nihilism are. Yet "The Night Porter" ultimately feels like a superficial treatment of a rather serious subject, perhaps one better suited for the literary page. As striking as Charlotte Rampling is dancing in her suspenders and SS cap, the film might be proof that not every title Criterion selects is worthy of the same acclaim.
Cavani's strange take on sadomasochism, survivor's guilt and Nazism hasn't lost its power to shock but its relative tameness by today's standards doesn't work in its favour. Bogarde and Rampling are both quite extraordinary here overcoming the more risqué elements. Musical score is quite interesting in its contrasts. Frankly expected more considering its reputation and recent Criterion Collection release.
The use of classical music and opera during the concentration camps scenes is beautifully interwoven to show the juxtaposition of the long extended sung notes with the sadomasochistic relationship between Max and Lucia. Only a true X rated film could do that perfectly.
I know a lot of people don't like this film for various reasons I can't argue with but I love it more everytime I see it. Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling are 2 of my favorite actors and they do some of their best work here.
The Night Porter can often be described as a sensationalist attempt at making Nazism and Sadomasochism horrifying in a pretty decadent way, but it's power lies in the 'Stronger than death' psychological subtext that lies in the couple formed by Dirk Bogarde and the incredible Charlotte Rampling and their struggle for sexual tansgression and desire. Cavani's politcal message needed however some more flourishing.
A movie that gets better and better with years passing by. Vienna's light is murky and the Bogarde-Rampling relation still as sick as it was 35 years ago. Almost as good as Luchino Visconti's THE DAMNED. Highly recommended.