USA Today - 02/27/2004
"Grandiose and eye-filling..."
Sight and Sound - 08/01/2004
"The film is a baroque affair full of lurid set-pieces..."
A family's decline coincides with Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s and serves as an allegory for German society as a whole in this intoxicating work from Luchino Visconti. The Essenbeck family runs the German steel industry and the nervous patriarch attempts to appease the Nazis by appointing a successor sympathetic to their cause. But his choice sets off a round of in-fighting as his children battle for control of the company. His young grandson eventually takes charge, but his drug addiction wreaks havoc on his family when he brutally rapes his mother and turns her into an addict. By the end of the film, the Nazis, including the party members in the family, are on the verge of taking over Europe.
Family Interaction |
Theatrical Release |
Shot in Eastmancolor and Technicolor at Cinecitta Studios, Rome, Italy.
Director Luchino Visconti at one time directed operas in Italy.
Co-produced by Italnoleggio (Italy) and Eichberg Films (Germany).
Feature film debut for Austrian actor Helmut Berger, born in 1944.
The film is loosely based on the Krupp family, who were steel magnates prior to World War II.
An Italian/West German co-production, the film is in English except for one scene in a German beer hall. The script was written in Italian and then translated.
The film ran out of money when production was only half through. Visconti showed the previously shot footage to producers Alfred Levy and Ever Haggiag who were impressed enough to supply the rest of the money he needed. The film had to stop production in the middle for several months though. In that interim star Dirk Bogarde made two other films.
Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.