Life in wartime . . .
Ronald Scheer | Los Angeles | 11/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Made by German director Volker Schlondorff shortly after his Academy Award winning "The Tin Drum," this film plunged his crew and cast into the middle of Beirut during the civil war that had been raging there for six years. In the film, he attempts to comprehend the kind of urban political violence that has wracked cities from Sarajevo to Kabul to Baghdad in the years since. He explains correctly in the making-of short and an interview included on this DVD that in the absence of a strong central government, the militias of competing warlords, armed by other nations, have the capacity to continue in this kind of conflict for years, using fear, atrocity, and intimidation to turn ethnic groups against each other.
Along with a journalist, played by Bruno Ganz, we observe the daily and nightly routines of assaults and retaliations, the bombs and fire fights, the snipers, and the brutalizing of noncombatants. Schlondorff seems to be asking the audience to examine its own position as outsiders, viewing the carnage and mayhem almost as voyeurs. And we see how the events that reduce life to less than human or snuff it out altogether are reduced even further by the media churning it into news. In one scene, a man auctions off a handful of gruesome photographs to two competing news agencies.
As Schlondorff says, the ruined city streets and abandoned bombed-out buildings where they shot scenes were little different from those he knew as a boy in the aftermath of WWII. Ganz, we learn, was never comfortable working on the film, while his co-star, the amazing Hanna Schygulla, is clearly at home here and gives a breath-taking performance as the widow of a Lebanese Arab. The film is troubling and unnerving and certainly current, though it was made over 25 years ago."
Beirut As It Really Was
Zarathustra | Sacramento, CA USA | 02/20/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The German film director Volker Schlondorff is rapidly becoming one of my favorite directors. Coming just after his masterpiece The Tin Drum, Circle of Deceit gives an accurate picture of the horrors that occurred in Beirut during the 70s and 80s. It was filmed in the city when violence was peaking in 1981 and features Bruno Ganz as a war correspondent. The gunfire and explosions we see are all too real.
Schlondorff is unique in that each of his films reflect a different perspective on the Nazi experience and the horrors of war that he observed during WW2. Each film is like a chapter in one long book. If you liked Oliver Stone's film Salvador you will like this one."