Film (1989). NEF Filmproduktion/Ellepi Film/Cléa Productions. Directed by Claude Chabrol. Written by Sollace Mitchell from a story by Thomas Bauermeister, inspired by Doktor Mabuse, der Spieler (1920; trans Lilian A Clare as Dr. Mabuse, Master of Mystery 1923) by Norbert Jacques (1880-1954). Cast includes Alan Bates, Jennifer Beals, Jan Niklas and Hanns Zischler. 116 minutes. Colour.
Although in clear homage to Fritz Lang's three Dr Mabuse films (see Dr Mabuse, der Spieler), this German, Italian and French coproduction is not Langian in style. An epidemic of suicides in a Near-Future Berlin, investigated by detectives from both East (Zischler) and West (Niklas), is connected to the Theratos holiday camps whose mysterious owner (the "Mabuse" figure, Marsfeldt, played by Bates) has been conditioning holiday-makers by Hypnosis to kill themselves, his thesis being that death is fundamentally what we all crave. Marsfeldt, a perversely charming philosopher surviving thanks to a life-support system, has wide media holdings and intends to brainwash the whole of Berlin into oblivion via a television broadcast. This sophisticated film focuses on the dream-like quality of a world dominated by media images and on the difficulty of locating any firm reality within it. [PN]
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