Movie : Entartete
Director: Nicola Barsottelli
“I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again…”
Suicide in the trenches, Siegfried Sassoon
The title of the movie is suggestive of a rare experience. It almost enquires of the viewer his potential to watch something. It asks him if he possesses the conviction of undertaking a unique kind of pilgrimage for the degenerates. A journey through a myriad of dreams and nightmares. A journey full of regrets and misgivings. The eternal question being : Do we have it in us to enter a world where we are our own monsters?
The world we are asked to enter is the world of a soldier. A world enmeshed in nightmarish occurrences that he wants to perhaps undo and disenchanting memories that he wants to rid his psyche off. Everything involving a battlefield where men fought men and futility won.
Evidently the frames appear intricately constructed. Every frame in the movie resembles a painting. The concept of excess plays a vital role in both the narrative and the physical appearances of the characters.
A doctor appears on the screen. He is examining a soldier’s psyche (who is probably in an unconscious state). He discovers something dubious about him and reports it directly to a Nazi officer. He informs him about a little rendezvous that is about to take place the following day. In all probability a meeting with dangerous consequences if left unchecked. The officer assures the doctor of thwarting the problem. He proceeds to do the same, the next day.
However the visitations in the consciousness of the officer are anything but symbols of tranquility. They are phantasmic , repugnant and agonizing. There appears a man in a gas mask, (something that soldiers wore during the war to protect themselves). It is perhaps the soul of a dead man, a shadow that has vowed to chase him to his grave.
The soul of the soldier resembles the one possessed by the shadow figure, infested with the urge for unknown vengeance and a thirst for redemption.
The movie makes one reminiscent of the silent, suspenseful, expressionist thrillers like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The dialogues, the gestures, and specifically the expressions appear to be leaves taken out of the books by German Expressionists.
Colors play a potent role in the narrative. They initiate the tone of a specific scene. They act as indicators of machinations, fear, tragedy and terror. They represent the myriad shades of a man’s psyche. Manipulation of thoughts, words and actions appear on the forefront.
Further, strong suggestions about post war depression have been made in the movie. Images and thoughts clearly appear to decimate the thoughts of the war veteran.
The movie assumes the role of a haunting dream resulting in a
Violent culmination of imagined or real events indicating perhaps the inevitability of death. The domain constructed by Nicolo Barsottelli is as harrowing as Dante’s underworld with the added baggage of an active conscience, making the movie a must watch for all cinephiles.