“Death of the Gods” ( Italian: La caduta degli dei ) - a cinema by Luchino Visconti (1969) about the disintegration of the industrial aristocracy family (like Krupp from Essen ) and about the events associated with the night of long knives in the Third Reich . The main roles were played by Visconti's lover Helmut Berger , Dirk Bogard and Ingrid Tulin . The film was a success at the European box office  . It opens up the "German trilogy" of Visconti and a string of arthouse tapes about Nazism and its origins  .
|Death of gods|
|La caduta degli dei|
|Producer||Alfred Levy |
|Nicola Badalucco |
|In the main|
|Dirk Bogard |
|Operator||Pasqualino De Santis |
|Film company||Eichberg-Film GmbH |
|A country|| Italy |
Germany, February 27, 1933 . Baron Joachim von Essenbeck, the head of the metallurgical concern , celebrates his birthday with relatives and close friends. Gather here: the youngest son of Joachim, Konstantin von Essenbek with his son Gunther; grand-niece Elizabeth and her husband Herbert Talman, vice president of the concern; the widow of Joachim's eldest son, Sophie von Essenbeck, her son Martin, the legal heir to the firm’s heritage, as well as her lover Friedrich Brookman, executive director of steel mills. In addition, there is a cousin Sophie - Hauptsturmfuhrer SS Ashenbach. 
When Martin in a female guise imitates the dance of Marlene Dietrich from the Blue Angel , the celebration is interrupted by an urgent message from Berlin about the burning of the Reichstag . The head of the family announces his decision to appoint Konstantin, a member of the Nazi party holding an important post in the SA, as vice president. The retired Herbert, a man of liberal convictions, realizes that now he can only be saved by fleeing abroad. Taking advantage of the situation, Frederick, instigated by Sophie and Aschenbach, kills old Joachim in his bedroom at night; the responsibility lies with the fledgling Herbert.
Henceforth, the formal head of the concern should be the heir - Martin, a spoiled young man with constrained will. At the instigation of his mother, he nominates Frederick as president. After the suicide of the Jewish girl Lisa Keller, who was seduced by Martin, the informed Konstantin begins to blackmail Martin, and he panicked and hides in the attic of the castle. Sophie agrees with Ashenbach on how to hush up this matter and how to eliminate Constantine with the help of Frederick.
At dawn on June 30, 1934 in Bad Wiessee , in the location of the SA detachments, where on the eve of the festival ended with a drunken orgy, an SS detachment led by Aschenbach arrives to exterminate the stormtroopers gathered here (see Night of Long Knives ). Friedrich takes part in this action, who, fulfilling the will of Sophie, shoots Konstantin from a machine gun. In every possible way provoking a struggle for power in the Essenbekov family, SS Ashenbach uses each of the participants in this struggle in the interests of the Nazi cause.
Sophie eliminates Elizabeth, having managed to send her to a concentration camp , where she subsequently dies, and intern the children in order to force her husband Herbert to return and hand himself over to the Gestapo . Aschenbach convinces the young Gunther, the son of Constantine, to join the Hitler party, but now he makes his main bet on Martin, fomenting a thirst for power in him and setting up against his mother, who supposedly suppresses his will.
And here is the fatal ending, in which hatred of the mother, which has already reached an almost existential degree, finds her terrible way out: in order to break her morally and in a fit of self-assertion, Martin decides on incestuous violence. Soon, already dressed in an SS uniform, he arranged a mocking imitation of her wedding with Brookman in the family castle. The wedding ritual took place, and the “newlyweds” - Sophie, similar to a zombie with a face mask, and Friedrich, deprived of any remaining wills - receive a “wedding present” from Martin: ampoules with potassium cyanide . In the last frame, Martin freezes over the corpses in a Nazi salute - a truly infernal code!
- Helmut Berger - Martin von Essenbeck
- Dirk Bogard - Friedrich Brookman
- Ingrid Tulin - Sophie von Essenbeck
- Helmut Grim - Aschenbach
- Renault Verle - Gunter von Essenbeck
- Umberto Orsini - Herbert Talman
- Reinhard Koldehof - Konstantin von Essenbeck
- Albrecht Schönhals - Joachim von Essenbeck
- Florinda Balkan - Olga
- Nora Ricci - Governess
- Charlotte Rampling - Elizabeth Talman
- Irina Vanka - Lisa
- Karin Mittendorf - Tilda Talman
- Valentina Ricci - Erica Talman
- Wolfgang Hillinger - Janek
- Esther Carloni - Madeline
The idea to make a film about the origins of Nazism was born by Visconti from plans to re-shoot Macbeth on modern historical material  . Reflecting on possible correspondences with the plot of Shakespeare's play in modern history, he came across a journal article about the Krupp family , which financed the war industry of the Third Reich  . While working on the script, the motifs “ King Oedipus ” (incestuous connection of a son with his mother) and “ Hamlet ” (an outcast son avenging his mother and her lover) were introduced into the plot  . The history of the moral decay of the family was rethought as an image of the “ death of the gods " - the fall of patriarchal Europe with its centuries-old cultural foundations. According to A. Plakhov , Visconti managed to fuse myth and history together, to rhyme family and social  .
After the film was released, some reviewers criticized it for decadence and heavy juggling with boring literary reminiscences, while others compared it with works of opera . According to one French critic, “Death of the Gods” is “a Shakespearean tragedy staged as Wagner’s opera ”  ; another critic wrote that this is the story of Krupp, seen through the eyes of Verdi  . The film was nominated for an Oscar for the best original screenplay and Golden Globe for the most promising newcomer (Helmut Berger). In American rental, the tape came out in a stripped-down form (without an orgy scene) and under a different name - “The Damned” ( The Damned ).
Following the Death of the Gods, several other films appeared, looking for the origins of fascism in sexual perversions ; among them the most famous are: “ Conformist ” B. Bertolucci (1970), “ Night Porter ” by Liliana Cavani (1974), “ Kitty Salon ” Tinto Brass (1976). The image drawn by Visconti of the family destroying itself from the inside was rethought by Fr. Coppola in The Godfather (1972)  and P. Chereau in Queen Margot (1994)  . The death of the gods made a particularly lasting impression on Fassbinder , who considered him perhaps the greatest of all films  and repeatedly quoted individual scenes from him (for example, in Chinese Roulette )  .
- Bacon, Henry. Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay . Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-521-59960-3 . Pages 145-148.
- In the monograph on Visconti, G. Bacon notes that Essenbekov’s relationship can only be sorted out after repeated viewing of the film.
- The film "Death of the Gods" - Review (4 of 4) - Poster
- Kommersant Newspaper - “Death of the Gods” on NTV
- Peter E. Bondanella. Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present . Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 0-8264-1247-5 . Page 264.
- Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. Luchino Visconti . British Film Institute, 2003. 3rd edition. Page 211.
- Julianne Pidduck. La reine Margot (Patrice Chéreau, 1994) . University of Illinois Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-252-07331-1 . Page 17.
- Fassbinder über Fassbinder . ISBN 978-3-88661-268-0 . Page 358.
- Kommersant Newspaper - Fasbinder Retrospective on NTV
- Death of the Gods on the Internet Movie Database
- The death of the gods (English) on the site allmovie