Monday, January 17, 2011

The Keep

Here is what we could call an oddity.  It's one of those films that is something of a head scratcher, mostly for the talent involved.  For example, this is directed by Michael Mann, not the first person one would choose for what is essentially a gothic tale.  Yet here he is.  He doesn't use the bright minimalism he shows in other projects, but does subject the viewer to a host of bright lights and slow motion.

Slow motion could be invoked in the plot as well.  Based on the novel by F. Paul Wilson, it is a story of a bunch of nazis being killed.  Specifically, Jurgen Prochnow's troop of nazis are sent to an isolated keep in Romania to use as a base.  The villagers tell them, this is not the best idea in the world.  The keep itself is definitely spooksville.  But soldiers are soldiers and soon they are dying off one by one.  Gabriel Byrne comes along as an SS officier who believes partisans are involved.  Gabriel ropes in Ian McKellen who's a crippled jewish professor.  Meanwhile, Scott Glenn is all mysterious with glowing eyes.

All this sounds like it should rock and roll, but as I pointed out it plays as slow motion.  One of the oddest bits of casting in light of his later work is Ian  McKellen.  It's odd that plays a concentration camp survivor who is saved by a fantastic intervention both here and later as Magneto in the X-Men films.  Scott Glenn is wasted in his role.  Gabriel Byrne's hair has more character.  Only Jurgen really works here as a character.

So, we have a wasted cast and a lackluster script.  What makes this film interesting?  Well, I have to say I really liked the design of the film.  The Romanian village is beautifully rendered and the Keep itself is fascinating.  I also like the film's sound track by Tangerine Dream.  Finally, it has a few interesting ideas that I wish they could have done more with.  Let's face it, a nazi vs. monster film could be great cause both are villains.  It means both sides could be capable of anything.  Oh well, maybe next time.

1 comment:

  1. I really hated this movie. It sounded so promising, but then the whole thing was filmed in Valium-O-Vision.