In the early days of Nazi Germany, a powerful noble family must adjust to life under the new dictatorship regime. The transition from democracy to dictatorship is thus dramatized through the lives of the family which also owns a powerful German industrial firm. Through such characters as a German Baron, a child molester, a Nazi Storm Trooper, an innocent man framed for murder, and a Captain in the German SS, “Damned” thus shows how so called “German Upper Class Nobility” first resented Adolf Hitler, then accepted him, and at last embraced him.
Director Luchino Visconti’s controversial film (originally rated X due to its subject matter) told a melodramatic story, with many allegorical historical connections to sexual perversions and destructiveness (incest, pedophilia, immorality, homosexuality, murder, drug addiction and suicide).
The drama told its story through a soap opera chronicling of the moral disintegration and dysfunctionality of one wealthy, upper-crust industrial family during the Nazi’s rise to power in the early to mid 1930s. The main characters related to the Von Essenbeck family were:
Baron Joachim Von Essenbeck (Albrecht Schonhals), involved with the Nazis and murdered in the early stages of the film
Sophie Von Essenbeck (Ingrid Thulin), the widow of the Baron’s only son, a scheming, ruthless and power-hungry matriarchal figure
Martin Von Essenbeck (Helmut Berger), a decadent, over-the-top anti-hero character, and the future heir; he was a dope-addicted, degenerate, sexually-aberrant pedophile, and transvestite teenager (he performed a drag routine on-stage, imitating Marlene Dietrich in Blue Angel in one early sequence, at his father’s birthday party concert)
Constantin Von Essenbeck (Rene Koldehoff), Sophie’s brother, Brown Shirt SA Officer
Frederick Bruckmann (Dirk Bogarde), Sophie’s lover, the opportunistic manager of the Essenbeck’s steelworks business
When Sophie made love to Frederick, she expressed her wish to get married very soon: “You and I together, forever.”
Martin molested a poor young Jewish girl named Lisa (Irina Wanka) after kissing her (off-screen) (ahd she tragically hanged herself). He also incestuously raped his own mother Sophie after telling her of his tremendous hate for her: “I will destroy you, Mother.” He threw off his own clothes, then ripped her dress from her body. Afterwards, they laid in each other’s arms and caressed each other.
The centerpiece of the film was the restaging of the historical bloodbath massacre of Brown Shirt SA soldiers (in June 1934) called “Night of the Long Knives.” It occurred after a surreal drunken orgy (equated with Nazi evil) of the homosexual soldiers – who had been skinny-dipping in the lake during the day, wildly carousing with naked women, dancing in female underwear at a lakeside resort, and then retiring to various bedrooms to sleep naked together. The soldiers were dragged from sleep and gunned down in large numbers.
Tags: Albrecht Schoenhals, Charlotte Rampling, Dirk Bogarde, Florinda Bolkan, Free movies 1969, Helmut Berger, Helmut Griem, Ingrid Thulin, La caduta degli dei, La caduta degli dei Online, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Renaud Verley, Umberto Orsini