Moloch – Молох
17 March 2016

Moloch – Молох
Directed by Alexander Sokurov, 1999.

Storyline from Harvard Film Archive
Moloch is an absorbing reconstruction of the last days of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun that attempts to comprehend manifestations of evil and power. Set in the Führer’s spectacular mountain retreat just before the German defeat at Stalingrad, the film focuses less on clichés of evil than on the vacuous boredom of absolute power: a naked Braun prances on the clammy battlements, Goebbels and Hitler dance to music together, and Nazi officials raid Hitler’s liquor cabinet like frat boys while somewhere, a country burns. Hallucinatory visuals and a sense of suspended time heighten the claustrophobic aura that surrounds the characters like a fugue.

The film is the first in Sokurov’s tetralogy of power. It was succeeded by Taurus (2000), about Vladimir Lenin, The Sun (2005), involving Japanese emperor Hirohito, and Faust (2011), based on the old German legend Faust.

How to part with absolute evil? How to demystify it?
In this movie, Sokurov attempts to show us a worn down and hypochondriac Adolf Hitler taking a break from his political duties at the Eagle’s Nest. The movie is an oneiric huis clos, sealed off on the top of a mountain by clouds and fog, far from the happenings of history. This bubble in time and space forces the viewer to dig into his own historical knowledge to associate the characters with the tragical World War II, giving to the movie its whole dimension. If all characters were replaced by anonymous people, the films plot wouldn’t really change and would remain an analysis of human interactions.
I was amazed to read that the movie was partly filmed at the real Eagle’s Nest in Austria and that the dialogues were authentic, drawn in from Picker’s “Hitlers Tischgespräche im Führerhauptquartier”. These dialogues bring a certain ridicule to the Führer’s character and part with the general image of a strong and firm leader or worse, the incarnation of absolute evil.
The green and gloomy, sometimes distorted and blurry images convey a strong discomfort and aguish throughout the whole movie.