The most savagely subversive film by the iconoclastic auteur Luchino Visconti, The Damned employs the mechanics of deliriously stylized melodrama to portray Nazism's total corruption of the soul. In the wake of Hitler's ascent to power, the wealthy industrialist von Essenbeck family and their associates - including the scheming social climber Friedrich (Dirk Bogarde), the matriarch Sophie (Ingrid Thulin) and the perversely cruel heir Martin (Helmut Berger, memorably donning Dietrich-like drag in his breakthrough role) - descend into a self-destructive spiral of decadence, greed, perversion and all-consuming hatred as they vie for power, over the family business and over one another. The heightened performances and Visconti's luridly expressionistic use of Technicolor conjure a garish world of decaying opulence in which one family's downfall comes to stand for the moral rot of a nation.
Special features include a new 2K digital restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna and Institut Lumire, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; an alternate Italian-language soundtrack; an interview from 1970 with director Luchino Visconti about the film; archival interviews with actors Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin and Charlotte Rampling; Visconti: Man of Two Worlds, a 1969 behind-the-scenes documentary; a new interview with scholar Stefano Albertini about the sexual politics of the film; a new English subtitle translation and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing; plus an essay by scholar D. A. Miller.
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