films seen
average score
Alive and kicking



1981 / 144m - West Germany
Mephisto poster

My first Szabo (outside an entry in the Ten Minutes Older anthology). I didn't really know what to expect, but based on the poster I had hoped for a slightly more expressive, unique film. Instead, Mephisto is a more traditional undertaking, one that submerges itself into the arts and theater world.

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The plot revolves around Hendrik, a rather pretentious and self-righteous actor who enjoys some sudden success when he takes on the role of Mephisto. As the Nazis are slowly taking over the country, Hendrik struggles to balance his newfound popularity with the changing political circumstances, renouncing the people around him in favor of success.

It's a pretty familiar artist-gone-bad story, then again it is based on a literary classic, so that's not all too surprising. The direction is relatively vibrant, but only compared to similarly themed films. The setting is pretty poor (it never felt like pre-WWII Germany to me) and the acting was a bit overdone too. Not great.

Colonel Redl

Oberst Redl
1985 / 144m - Hungary
Colonel Redl poster

A Hungarian classic. This was my third Szabo, and like the ones I watched before, it failed to impress me. It's an epic undertaking though, a 2.5-hour biopic based on a play (and not so much facts, as the intro clearly stated), but the film is too traditional for my tastes, making the runtime a real bother.

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Redl is a young Ukrainian boy of poor descent. He works hard to rise through the ranks of the Austrian army, and because he speaks multiple languages he becomes an important pawn in international politics. Redl is gay though, a side of his he has hidden successfully from those who needn't know. Such a thing can't stay secret forever.

Attention was given to the cinematography, which I appreciate, but I found the colors, lighting, and mise en scene pretty ugly. The story was dull, the soundtrack somewhat annoying and 140 minutes was excessive. This just isn't the kind of cinema I like, and Colonel Redl couldn't convince me otherwise.