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ogenoct
Thursday, July 1st, 2004, 03:41 AM
Movie Review: THE STENDHAL SYNDROME

by Constantin von Hoffmeister


HAIL Argento!

I must make the following statement: THE STENDHAL SYNDROME radiates with such brilliance, I can hardly describe it in a sane terminology. It was released in 1996 and should therefore be easily available. The term "surreal" does not do justice to the film's poetic MACHT. Dario Argento's film is a marriage of HELL and HADES: a union of Jean Cocteau's LE SANG D'UN POETE and Luis Bunuel's UN CHIEN ANDALOU! Even good old Willy Blake would not see angels dancing in the 2-D trees on the screen! Beautiful Asia Argento plays Anna, and Anna enters Boticelli paintings and sensuously kisses a monster fish (squeezed out by Dagon himself?).

Stendhal lost himself in a gallery, intoxicated by the beauty of oil paint and canvases. Anna loses herself in Hieronymus Bosch's dark orgy worlds and hears the painful whispers of her own descent into the SPIRAL TRAP! Thomas Kretschmann plays the beautiful Aryan Alfredo who sings tunes to blood that drips from lips of people he loves and rapes. He becomes intoxicated with sheer SABINIAN pleasure, and he wears a snazzy suit. Did I mention the soundtrack was composed by Italian demi-god Ennio Morricone? Go and rent it, o defiler of the ancient scrolls!

In an interview with the German gore-zine SPLATTING IMAGE, Argento explains why so many Italian directors are obsessed with Germany and the Third Reich in particular: "It is about the Germans' obsession with death, the celebration of death, the death cults. Look at Art Deco: They are beautiful works, but they seem like mortuary art, Art Deco has something to do with funerals. We Italians are also fascinated with Leni Riefenstahl and her work. The OLYMPIA films, TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, we are very impressed by her style."

Argento also talks about the power of the Swastika: "The symbol of German Fascism, the Swastika, is a holy symbol, a symbol of eternity. I am not sure if I am conscious of it, maybe I am merely reflecting what I see around me, and these symbols, these aesthetics are arguably the simplest and most commonly understandable expression of that which moves me. Fascism is still present in Italy, as a memory, of course, but also in daily life, in many details."