Yukio Mishima on Visconti’s “The Damned”: Dangerous Decadence

In its Wagnerian manner, its German grotesquerie, its transvestitism, its nervous insanity, its ponderousness, its symphonic sense of psychological danger, its worship of the body, its unceasing dramatic tension, its excesses, its obsession with hurling every single character toward tragedy and death, its ostentation, its sensuality, its love of ritual and ceremony, its intoxication, and its shattering dark lyricism which is like a blue sky suddenly cloaked by clouds, “The Damned” recreates the hate-filled beauty of the Nazis so faithfully that it virtually becomes the thing it depicts.

Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima
Martin, the heir to the Essenbeck steelworks
Elisabeth Thalmann, wife of a republican Herbert who fled the Third Reich; dies in Dachau concentration camp
“You must realize that today in Germany anything can happen, even the improbable, and it’s just the beginning… Personal morals are dead. We are an elite society where everything is permissible. These are Hitler’s words.”
Aschenbach, Gestapo officer
Baroness Sophie von Essenbeck and her lover Friedrich Bruckmann;
together they scheme to take over Essenbeck steelworks
Baroness and Friedrich after Martin destroys them; married according to a Nazi ritual, then forced to drink poison

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