What a Piece of Work is Man

John Claudius, a professor of philosophy at Harvard, returns to his home in Germany after 20 years. As a young boy, he was sent to live with his mother’s relatives in Pittsburgh before World War II broke out. In his absence, his father built a financial empire with his munitions plant and became a respected member of the Nazi party. After Claudius senior was killed in a bombing raid, John’s mother Gertrud married Paul Claudius, the younger brother of her husband. The reason for John’s unexpected visit after 20 years is motivated by suspicions that his father was murdered by Paul and he is determined to learn the truth. Sound familiar? It should because The Rest is Silence (1959, German title: Der Rest ist Schweigen) is a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet set in a post-WW2 Germany.

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Claude Chabrol: The Eye of Evil

Among the French New Wave directors, Claude Chabrol was the most prolific filmmaker after Jean-Luc Godard but his work was always divided between personal projects and commercial vehicles which he felt obligated to make so he could finance the former. Unfortunately, most of his “for hire” projects like Code Name: Tiger (1964) and Who’s Got the Black Box? (1967) were not successful with the public and ended up adversely affecting his reputation among film critics after his acclaimed film debut, Le Beau Serge (1958). Although he enjoyed a major comeback in the late sixties-early seventies with such well-received efforts as Les Biches (1969), La Femme Infidele (1969) and Le Boucher (1970), the films he made between 1959 and 1967 were mostly regarded as minor or flawed works by French critics, which hurt their distribution chances outside of France. One title that fell through the cracks and is now being reassessed as one of his most important early works is The Third Lover (1962), which was released on Blu-Ray in late February of 2020.   Continue reading