March 23, 1982 [Mephisto]

Wasn't Mephisto already a picture ten years ago called Cabaret? Almost: Both Hendrick and Sally love the idea of success so much that they put on too much makeup and play coy with brutal old history, its drunken pawing in the back seat endured, as long as they're center stage and dazzling when the curtain goes up.

But this is Hendrick's own country he's jazz-dancing on, his Motherland suffering an Oedipal stomping--while the leering son closes his eyes in manufactured pleasure and shuts his ears--like Odysseus getting what he wants, except Hendrick hears the song, and rushes to the rocks. At the end, he insists to us he's just an actor, what do they want from him--and the irony of the movie, laid on with a steam shovel as Mephistopheles the tempter becomes Faust the tempted becomes--what? His own temptation? A self-contained hell-bound machine rolling him through Nazi territory--those most audacious of all actors? Klaus Maria Brandauer works mightily to expose his actor's self-forgiving soul, and gives us one more layer of grime atop Cabaret's gaudy trash-heap.


  1. Well...I can think of this analogy....

    Cabaret = dancers
    Mephisto = actors

    They follow two different artistic traditions in the face of Nazism.

  2. There's even a back-alley beating scene in both movies, the cabaret and the theater no real sanctuary after all. Both movies give us telling Nazism-as-performance metaphors.


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