The Ogre | Chicago Reader

The Ogre

With its historical spectacle, literary pretensions, and antidramatic score (by Michael Nyman), this story set during the Third Reich seems deeper than it is. “Am I still living in the ordinary world, or have I wandered into a fairy tale?” asks Abel (John Malkovich), in a voice-over that makes his character, a French naif sent to the front as punishment for a crime he may not have committed, even more ambiguous. Captured by the Germans, he inadvertently ingratiates himself and ends up—caped, on horseback, and wearing cool glasses—recruiting members of the Hitler Youth for an SS preparatory school. Director Volker Schlöndorff wrote the screenplay with Jean-Claude Carriere, based on a 1970 novel by Michel Tournier.

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