Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)
Hanussen (1988)

Genre: Drama • Biography
Director: István Szabó
Starring: Klaus Maria Brandauer, Erland Josephson, Ildikó Bánsági, Adrianna Biedrzynska
Duration: 140 min.
Rating: 7.3  

Hanussen centers on an Austrian soldier who becomes clairvoyant after he is shot in the head during World War I.  He is able to read minds and predict the future.  Before long, he has foreseen Hitler and the Nazis' rise to power, and he soon finds himself in danger.

Hanussen is a film from Hungarian director István Szabó, a fictional telling of the story of Erik Jan Hanussen, an Austrian clairvoyant popular before and during the rise of Nazi Germany.  It premiered in competition at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.

Szabo's third film in a row starring Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer, following Mephisto and Colonel Redl, it once again follows the life of a man who rises to fame and power, only to be thwarted by the regime.  It spans from the end of WWI, where Klaus Schneider who would later become known by his stagename Erik Jan Hanussen is injured in combat and sent to an infirmary where he hones his skills as a hypnotist and mind reader, and follows his career as a clairvoyant all the way to his fateful prediction of the Reichstag fire in February 1933.

As with the other two films in the trilogy, it is Brandauer's performance that drives this film.  He just has a magnetic screen presence that makes every scene interesting to watch.  It is unfortunate because he is given much less to work with this time around.  Szabo's story lacks development and coherence, the plot advances confusingly and you never know how much time has passed from one scene to the next.  Instead of a compelling and dramatic character study, it sometimes feels like random moments strung together.  Also the ever apparent stylized hazy cinematography by Lajos Koltai is a look that I just can't come to appreciate. 

Hanussen is not Szabo and Brandauer's finest moment, that would be the incredible Colonel Redl, but this is still a fascinating story and an intense performance worth seeing.

Bonjour Tristesse

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)

Hanussen (1988)


Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah to me that kind of thing belongs in a dream sequence or a cheesy soft core porn.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Looking at the screenshots you provide here, I can see what you mean about that haziness. I don't know if I appreciate it either.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

There is only a slight similarity with the two films, that being a traumatic injury bringing about supernatural powers for the main character.  Otherwise they are nothing alike.

Sakthitvel said...

good job actually...

Jack Deth said...

Hi, Bonjour and company:

Thanks for the concise, intriguing review and photos, Bonjour.

Am I the only one getting a distinct David Cronenberg/Christopher Walken, 'Dead Zone' vibe from this film?

If so. All the better!

Have a weakness for well researched and executed period pieces. Especially ones I've not heard of. ''Hanussen' looks like a decent afternoon's entertainment.

d_4 said...

I'm not too tempted, but considering I intend on watching both Mephisto and Colonel Redl soon, it'll get jotted down. I think I'll appreciate it.

Thingamajigblog said...

This seems very promising... 

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