by Howard A. Rodman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 1, 1989
A first novel and marvelously expressive re-creation of filmmaker Fritz Lang's last weeks in Hitler's Germany before going into self-exile. Rodman has a genius for exact detail and long shadows--which in themselves hold as much psychological movement as does his plot. And deep echoes of Lung films tunnel under all. Lang has just finished editing The Last Testament of Dr. Mabuse, a dark thriller of epic length and incredible velocity that parodies the works and days of Hitler and his Brown Shirts. But Herr Goebbels, the minister of propaganda, has himself secretly viewed Mabuse and has no intention of letting Lang release it without reshooting the ending, which even he can see shows the Leader in an unfavorable light. Meanwhile, the unalterably monocled Lang is Germany's greatest filmmaker, his opening nights are attended by highest society, he lives like a prince. Unfortunately, two years ago his wife and scriptwriter Thea von Harbou found out about his liaisons with some starlets, little sins that meant nothing to Lang, and she has not been to bed with him since. In fact, she takes on a much younger American journalist as her lover. But following the Reichstag fire and the Chancellor's greater grip on the country with his thugs, her lover must high-tail it to Paris. And now Lung too, approached by Goebbels to be State administrator to all of Germany's leading film directors, must seek freedom--for he is half-Jewish and his days are numbered. Rodman pastes in luscious details as if he has soaked up a thousand society magazines of the period. At the same time, he keeps his ear fresh for ominous undercurrents: ""One might as well, she [Thea] told herself now, imagine a subterranean city, accessed by false-front elevator, hidden behind a rack of curios in the rear room of an antique shop, in the Chinese district. That secret city, coextensive with Berlin, one kilometer beneath, inhabited by the criminal element, members of arcane societies, and those without proper motives."" Too rich for a large public, but caviar for the art-film buff.
Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1989
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1989
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