Sunday, January 07, 2007

Classic Movie Review: "The Boys From Brazil"

Ah, Nazis. Is there a more reliable movie villain then these goose-stepping men? The Boys From Brazil (1978) is a twist on the usual Nazi-villain films, with it taking place 30 years after the end of WW2 and with a thriller twist.

Dr. Josef Mengele, played by Gregory Peck, is the real life person portrayed as the antagonist. Dr. Mengele is notorious in history as the "Angel of Death" of the Nazi Party, as he performed extensive genetic experiments on human beings during the war. This is fact. He often performed surgeries without pain killers and peformed other medical atrocities. He sruvived the war and lived the rest of his life in exile in Brazil. It is interesting to note that this man was still alive when the film was released.

The film ponders what he was doing in Brazil for all those years. In the film's universe, it is not for the faint of heart. He articifically dyes a boy's eyes to blue to better emulate the Aryan race. He also organizes a group of Nazi ex-officers and sympathizers to carry out a nefarious plot. The plot concerns killing men of a certain age all because their sons share a disturbing connection. I won't reveal what the connection is, but the movie is pretty famous and you have probably heard of the twist by now.

Sir Laurence Olivier plays the protaganist, the Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman. Sometimes Sir Olivier's Austrian accent comes across a bit thick and is hard to understand what he is saying. Otherwise it is a fine perfomance as the horror slowly unfolds, the once stoic Lieberman becomes more and more determined to get to Mengele. Lieberman jets all over the world, following the clues, with the audience only being one step ahead of him.

Of course, the movie ends with a confrontation between the two men, but how it is resolved is a nice little detour from the norm. There is definitely a darkish ending, but I realized that it had to turn out that way half way through the movie. Though the movie isn't necessarily realistic, I could see how in 1978 it had the potential to disturb people. There are some graphic, scientific scenes and the idea of the Nazi party still thriving in secret, ready to strike, is not a pleasant thought.

The movie got off to a slow start, but once the conspiracy started to unravel, the train sped down the tracks. This is one classic movie that I enjoyed and seems to stand up to the test of time.

3 1/2 History Channel Subjects out of 5.


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