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I Nominate Donald Trump For Best Actor in a Reality Drama

The Oscars Need a New Acting Category

Moloch is a strange film that presumes to tell of a visit by Adolf Hitler in 1942 to his Alpine castle get-away, where a bored Eva Braun awaits him. We first see Braun dancing nude on a precarious parapet of the castle, eyeballed through binoculars by an SS soldier she seems aware of. Hitler is joined by an entourage including a diminutive, rodent-like Joseph Goebbels and his wife and an oafish Martin Bormann. They enjoy dinner-table talk and a bizarre picnic on a rocky mountainside surrounded by SS officers pulling security and servant duty. The film ends with a scene in which the man who captivated masses in Germany and was responsible for the genocide of millions is shown as a sniveling little weasel taunted and seduced by the only person able to speak truth to him. It would be inaccurate to call a movie like this entertainment, and director Sokurov’s long DVD comments make it clear that's not his intention. He’s interested in power and those who wield it and, through his artistic imagination, to get below the surface to speculate through mise-en-scene and acting what’s at the core of the madness. Hannah Arendt's famous formulation -- "the banality of evil" -- hover over this film.

“Every person who tries to seize or holds enormous power, or gets enormous power, inevitably starts acting, inevitably starts inventing a role for himself," Sokurov says, commenting on his film. "According to his inner psychological abilities and the times, ... sometimes it happens that a role is being invented and formed in front of other people. ... Hitler is this kind of person, who was actually unable to completely form his role in his performance, and as a tyrant an actor has no director to help him. He directs everything himself, therefore always remains amateur, simply put, unprofessional. Sometimes it’s very funny.”

More often, it isn’t funny. Based on his comments, Sokurov would be the first to agree that directing actors to play real, historic people in intimate moments amounts to fiction, his fictional imaginings and the visceral imaginings of the actors he directs. While Moloch is a far cry from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, this essay-like example of art cinema is loaded with insight into the dark magic of real-life political theatrics and how a weak and disturbed little man can become a world leader whose specific derangement stirs and provokes the collective mind of masses of human beings with whom his (or her) madness resonates.

But, then, there always is a Resistance. One can only hope the one in our current reality drama can mobilize its power without itself going off the deep end.



story | by Dr. Radut