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The strange story behind Dirk Bogarde’s arthouse ‘Nazisploitation’ movie ‘The Night Porter’

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The actor Dirk Bogarde was standing outside the Karl Marx-Hof workers’ apartments in Vienna ready to shoot a scene for Liliana Cavani’s film The Night Porter. Bogarde was playing Maximilian Theo Aldorfer, a Nazi SS officer. who had pursued a sadomasochistic relationship with a concentration camp prisoner called Lucia played by Charlotte Rampling. Bogarde was “shit-scared” wearing a black Nazi uniform in public. He wondered how the local citizens would take to his appearance. He had covered his costume with a raincoat while he waited for his cue. It was almost thirty years since the end of the Second World War when the full horror of the Nazis’ depravity had been revealed.

A large crowd gathered to watch the filming. Bogarde waited for the signal to walk across the cobbled, tram-lined street and enter the apartment. The camera turned-over. Bogarde removed his coat to reveal the SS uniform underneath. On seeing his military outfit, the crowd of onlookers cheered and clapped. They sang the “Horst Wessel Song.” Small children ran towards him just to touch the uniform. The old woman, whose apartment they were using in the film, bent down to kiss Bogarde’s gloved hand and said, “It’s the good days again.” Bogarde felt sick.

During the war, Dirk Bogarde had served as an intelligence officer. He was one of the first officers to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he witnessed the “mountains of dead people” as he walked through the camp and looked inside the huts where there was “tiers and tiers of rotting people, but some of them who were alive underneath the rot, and were lifting their heads and trying ....to do the victory thing. That was the worst.”

After the war, Bogarde became the pin-up of 1950’s British cinema, most notable for his performance as Simon Sparrow in the highly popular series of Doctor.. movies—starting with Doctor in the House in 1954. But Bogarde never wanted to be a matinee idol. He, therefore, decided on a series of controversial film roles starting with Victim in 1961, where he played a gay barrister, at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain, who is blackmailed over a sexual relationship with another man. He followed this up with Joseph Losey’s The Servant, then The Mind Benders, John Schlesinger’s Darling, Losey/Harold Pinter’s Accident, Visconti’s films The Damned and Death in Venice.

It was after the five grueling months of filming Death in Venice when the character of Gustav von Aschenbach had so possessed him, that Bogarde he decided on taking a break from movie-making. He returned to his farmhouse in France with his partner and manager Anthony Forwood, where he spent his time gardening and writing and tending to the 400 olive trees on his land. Time-off was great, but as Forwood pointed out one sunny day, Bogarde needed money to keep his home and lifestyle together. He, therefore, decided to go back to making movies.

Unfortunately, because of his critically acclaimed performances in films like The Servant, The Damned, and Death in Venice, the roles Bogarde was offered tended to be “degenerates,” spies, and Nazis. These scripts began to pile up in his basement.

One day, Bogarde was enthralled by a movie about Galileo on television. Though in Italian, he immediately recognized the film as a work of real artistic brilliance and originality. He waited until the end credits rolled so he could find out the name of the director. It was Liliana Cavani. The name was familiar. Cavani had sent him a script which he had deposited in his basement. It was called The Night Porter.

As Bogarde described this script in his biography An Orderly Man:

[T]he first part was fine, the middle a mess, the end a melodramatic mish-mash. Too many characters, too much dialogue, two stories jumbled up together where only one was necessary, but the point was that in the midst of this tumult of pages and words, buried like a nut in chocolate, there was a simple, moving, and exceptionally unusual story; and I liked it.

The story was a dark erotic psychological drama centered around the relationship between an SS officer and a young female prisoner, who meet up twelve years after their first encounter inside a concentration camp. In the film, Max is working as a night porter in a German town where the residents are fellow Nazis hiding from prosecution for war crimes. Lucia’s arrival at the hotel rekindles the sexual relationship with Max while threatening the former Nazis with disclosure. The script may have been a “mish-mash” but Bogarde was attracted to the central relationship between Max and Lucia—more so after he found out Cavani had based her script on actual events.
 
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Read more about the story behind ‘The Night Porter,’ after the jump...
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.20.2017
10:27 am
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Hack your Halloween with the DIY ‘Zardoz’ mask
10.19.2017
07:38 am
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Sean Connery as Zed (unmasked) in ‘Zardoz’
 
Gun? Check. Boots? Check. Bullet-belt diaper overalls? Check. Exterminator mask? Big red X, honking failure noise, eyes spilling tears. Looks like Halloween is cancelled this year.

As everyone knows, the mask is the hardest item to procure for your Zardoz costume. Even if you shelled out $150 for a prop replica, you wouldn’t be able to wear the thing, which is made to hang on the bedroom wall, where it can scare away prospective sex partners. Nor does the replica appear to be double-sided like the mask in the movie.
 

The paper ‘Zardoz’ mask (via miso soup of Godzilla)
 
Luckily, miso soup of Godzilla, a Japanese site devoted to paper models of sci-fi characters, has gathered all the components of an Exterminator mask on a printer-friendly template. The instructions look kind of forbidding in Japanese, but I suppose the recipe for a breakfast sandwich would also, to me. Google Translate reveals that assembling one of these is a beginner-level arts and crafts project. I suspect the tricky part will be getting ahold of the right kind of craft paper and then contouring it into two identical faces. But the materials make it look like a fuck in the park: two printed copies of the template, an X-Acto, and some glue.

Not surprisingly, Amazon still has some copies of the limited edition Blu Ray of Zardoz on hand. While you’re there, pick up a used copy of John Boorman’s novelization, which GoodReads reviewer Mandy calls “A painful read” and “Not nearly as good as I imagined it would be.” Zardoz has spoken!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.19.2017
07:38 am
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‘Zardoz’: Stills of Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling from John Boorman’s neglected masterpiece

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A fine selection of stills from John Boorman’s neglected masterpiece Zardoz, which starred Sean Connery as Zed, an Exterminator, who escapes to the land of his rulers, the jaded Eternals (Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton) bringing them sex and death.

I am great fan of this film, and particularly its novelization, written by Boorman and Bill Stair, which brought a small epiphany to my childhood. It would be good to see Zardoz rightfully reclaimed as a classic of the 1970’s cinema, one that reflected many of the ideas and politics of that decade, leading to a re-mastered version of Zardoz having a re-release on the film festival circuit. 
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

Photospread on John Boorman’s ‘Zardoz’ from 1974


‘Zardoz’ re-imagined as an 8-bit game


 
H/T Retronaut, via Tout Cine
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.03.2013
09:11 am
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Monkeyshines: Charlotte Rampling falls in love with an ape in ‘Max, Mon Amour’
01.30.2012
07:13 pm
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Max, Mon Amour, “the greatest ape romance since King Kong,” is a peculiar 1986 comedy starring Charlotte Rampling as a woman engaged in a polite ménage à trois with her husband and a monkey.

Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:

Reserved and cool, Margaret is the French wife of Peter, a British diplomat posted to France with their son Nelson. She takes a lover, a chimpanzee she bought from a zoo and installed in a flat. Peter asks that she bring the chimp, Max, to live with them. He obsesses about Margaret and Max’s relationship, hiring a prostitute so he can watch Max perform (Max declines) and peering through the keyhole as Margaret and Max sleep. He tries to kill Max, then finally accepts the ape’s presence. When she is called away to her ill mother’s bedside, Max stops eating. Worried, Peter takes Max and Nelson to the countryside so Max can be with Margaret; once there, Nature beckons. Is Max lost?

Max, Mon Amour was made by celebrated Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, In the Realm of the Senses). You have to hand to the beautiful Ms. Rampling, she really knew how to pick provocative projects. From The Night Porter to this!
 

 
Via PCL Linkdump

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.30.2012
07:13 pm
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Photo-spread for John Boorman’s ‘Zardoz’, 1974

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I read John Boorman and Bill Stair’s novelization of Zardoz when I was about 12. It was—to be frank—a defining moment in my childhood. The story chimed with many of my half-baked thoughts about those usual tropes—the control of religion, the division of class, society’s inequalities and its endemic violence. In a way you could say it was the start of my adult education. The book held extra significance as I had walked home from school for a week to save the money on bus fares to buy it. After reading it—nothing was ever the same. How could it be? When within its opening pages a flying godhead Zardoz has descended form the heavens and announced to its murderous followers:

“You have been raised up from Brutality, to kill the Brutals who multiply, and are legion. To this end, Zardoz your God gave you the gift of the Gun. The Gun is good!

“The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”

 
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When Sean Connery was sent the script, he was “absolutely caught by its originality”, as he told Gordon Gow from Films and Filming in 1974:

“It was one of the best ideas I’d come across for ages…So by the following weekend I was over in Ireland to prepare for filming.

“What gripped me especially was the direction the people in [the script] were taking in the future existence, as opposed to space ships and rockets and all that…[..]...What does interest me is the possible development of society in centuries to come. The way different levels and types evolve in the script is intriguing and refreshing, and could well be true. The fact that people are not going to die, for example.

“Many things are changed by the knowledge you’re not going to die. There’s no need to procreate, therefore it takes away the sexual drives. Today we live in the age of analysis: we can give answers as to why people do things, whether it’s ambition or fighting for power or because they hated their father or their mother - their hangups become a kind of blueprint to their behavior. But if you take that away you get an entirely different concept of human beings.’

Connery hadn’t been Boorman’s first choice, that had been Burt Reynolds, with whom Boorman had scored the major hit Deliverance. Somehow I can’t imagine Reynolds carrying off the thigh high boots or red loin cloth, or exuding the necessary untrammeled masculinity. With the success of Deliverancve, Boorman was given a carte blanche to make what he wanted. He started working on a science fiction script, Zardoz, in 1972, and brought in Bill Stair to “...help rationalize the visions that threatened to engulf me.”

Zardoz is certainly rich with ideas, some better developed than others, but all have their own merits. That’s one thing about the best of seventies’ films, they had intelligence behind them, ideas at play, rather than today’s reliance on CGI and anodyne stories.

Set in the 23rd century, where Exterminators trade grain with their god - Zardoz - for guns to exploit and kill. Enter Zed (Connery) who questions why a god would require grain, and sneaks on board the flying godhead to uncover the secret of Zardoz and life beyond the Outlands in the Vortex.

The Outlands: once it was called the good Earth. Now it is the desolate, exhausted, polluted wasteland all the world has become, except for the lush Vortex.

The Eternals: members of the Vortex. Highly privileged scientists and intellectuals, eternally young, who have learned all the Secrets of Life - except one.

The Exterminators: a privileged and physically superior group permitted to breed under strict control to fight the Brutals and support the Vortex.

The Brutals: the last survivors of the dying world outside the Vortex, who live at subsistence level.

The Apathetics: victims of the pursuit of perfection, they are Eternals who have found the strain of immortality too great and live only for the one thing their society denies them.

The Renegades: malicious, embittered offenders in the Vortex who would defy and destroy the establishment - if they could only find it.

Connery explained the film to Gow:

“Then society, a sit always does, starts to fragment into different strata. There are the Apathetics and the Renegades. They are all Eternals, these people, who are going to live forever. The base of all the great learning that the world has accumulated by that stage becomes a Tabernacle, which gives people information as to how to act, like a major computer, a great feed-tank put together by the best minds of the world. But the human condition is such that it still retains anger and other emotions.

“There are areas like oases: each is known as a Vortex. They exist throughout the world on a system of highly democratic rule with guidelines supplied from the Tabernacle. But the Renegades abhor the system and fight it…[..]...On the other hand, the Apathetics are reluctant to do anything at all..the Renegades they’d really like to die, to get out.

“Beyond the Vortex areas, there are the Outlands: very barren. The inhabitants there are called the Brutals, they’re rather like our present society, not very civilized. The god Zardoz gives the Brutals something to worship, the gun. the penis is evil, the gun is good. The Brutals are necessary to each Vortex, because they’ve been taught to provide wheat and other food substances…[..]...This is where the character I play comes in. I hide in the head…[..]...and set about destroying the society.”

For your delectation, here is the original photo preview for Zardoz, which appeared in Films and Filming in March 1974.
 
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More pics from ‘zardoz’, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.18.2011
06:19 pm
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‘Zardoz’ imagined as an 8bit game

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I’ve always been a fan of John Boorman’s Zardoz, no matter how camp, cheesy, or even ridiculous it may seem. Therefore, I do wish this brief 8-bit animation by nickcriscuolo was a real game.

Okay, it’s only an opening sequence, but just think of the potential Boorman’s and Bill Stair’s original story offers: as the Exterminator Zed (Sean Connery) crosses from the land of the Brutals (where “the gun is good and the penis is evil”), to a world of the Eternals, Apathetics, Renegades and the lovely Charlotte Rampling, where Zed finds himself the subject of the Eternals’ experiments and games, and uncovers the dark secret at the heart of their Vortex and its Tabernacle. O, yes this could work.

And of course, Connery and Rampling would voice it, and there’d be optional thigh-length boots. How bloody marvelous.
 

 
Bonus clip of original ‘Zardoz’ film trailer, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.20.2011
07:00 pm
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Beautiful women of the 60s

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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10.19.2010
10:45 pm
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