Monday, July 21, 2008

The Boys from Brazil

The Boys from Brazil; Thriller, UK/ USA, 1978; D: Franklin J. Schaffner, S: Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Uta Hagen, Steve Guttenberg, Denholm Elliott, Bruno Ganz

South America. Young Nazi hunter Barry Kohler is on the brink of a huge discovery of which he wants to inform his colleague, Jew Ezra Lieberman, over the phone. Barry thinks the runaway "doctor of death" Joseph Mengele started an unusual project, but just then the phone conversation gets forcefully interrupted. Ezra discovers that Joseph cloned Adolf Hitler using the remains of his DNA samples and that his clone is the 14-year old boy Bobby, living in the USA. Since the original Hitler was 14 when his father died, Joseph goes to the estate and kills Bobby's stepfather, hoping to shape his personality like the "original". But there he gets into a fight with Ezra. Bobby orders the dogs to kill Joseph. Ezra survives and lets the boy live.

(Fantasy) Thriller "The Boys from Brazil", nominated for a Golden Globe (best actor Gregory Peck) and 3 Oscars (best actor Laurence Olivier, editing, music), is an unsettling and bizarre anxiety film that starts a tricky polemic revolving around the problem where an innocent 14-year old boy turns out to be the clone of Adolf Hitler, thus it could easily go to play in a double bill with the film "The Marathon Man" where, ironically, Olivier plays a surviving Nazi, while here he plays a Nazi hunter, Ezra Lieberman. Messy and clumsy, but suspenseful story in which there is also a hunt by the Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele and Jewish Nazi hunter Ezra, unfolds almost like a good chess match in which every single move and every single mistake are crucial for the dark game. Even though there is a big degree of trash, the plot around cloning and genetic manipulation actually has merits, whereas the unusual finale in which Hitler's clone, the 14-year old Bobby, saves the Jewish hero, actually pushes the envelope and poses some thought provoking questions about how everything in life can turn out relative and changeable, which gave the film a surreal controversial touch that's not for everyone.


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