The highly provocative and discomfiting The Night Porter is transgressive not only in its depiction of a sadomasochistic relationship, but in its positioning of this relationship against the backdrop of the Holocaust.
In 1957 Vienna, Lucia (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband arrive at a hotel where she recognises porter Maximilian (Dirk Bogarde) as an SS guard who had been stationed at the concentration camp in which she was held. In flashback it is revealed that he had acted as both her tormenter and protector, a situation the two now re-create with a mixture of repressed guilt and escalating lust. (Notes by Kevin Coyne.)
This film is screening as part of Sex, the first of our three-month season dedicated to excess, presenting examples of how cinema has taken on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.
See also our monthly film from the IFI Irish Film Archive, From the Vaults: I Can’t I Can’t, which screens on January 22nd.