Colonel Redl, inspired by the play A Patriot for Me by John Osborne
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Colonel Redl is an excellent movie.
It is directed by the phenomenal Istvan Szabo, who has also contributed to the screenplay.
His Mephisto is one of the best films I know, on my list of favorite 50 films, albeit I have read something strange about the director:
. In January 2006, it became public that he had been an agent of the III/III department, a former communist agency of interior intelligence. And a journalist said: "This is the time to re-watch Mephisto. It has just become obvious that Szabo directed his own life in the movie, masterfully."
In Colonel Redl, Istvan Szabo has worked with the brilliant star of Mephisto, a film that has won the Academy Award.
Like Mephisto, Colonel Redl has been nominated for both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.
It was 1986, when The Argentinian Drama The Official History won.
Nevertheless, Colonel Redl has won an important prize at the most prestigious cinema festival, The Jury Prize in Cannes.
Klaus Maria Brandauer is overwhelming as Alfred Redl.
The magic, charisma, power, talent of this actor is extraordinary.
The narrative is classic and I love that.
We see the boy in his days at school and we hear a poem he writes and dedicates to the Kaiser.
The story takes place in the Austro- Hungarian Empire, in the period before its collapse that took place at the end of World War I.
Alfred Redl has a first crisis, albeit not a catastrophe, while in school, where he is called to name the guilty party in a commotion.
He does not want to be an informer- little knowing what his fate would be- and he says he does not know.
But when the threat is that all the four colleagues that were involved would be expelled if one is not named, Alfred gives in.
He is very angry with himself after that and calls himself a Judas and a traitor…
The adult officer has his share of conflict, romance, visits to the brothel and involvement in a duel, although not as a duelist.
His presence is castigated and he is told by his superior to avoid ever being part of any such illegal act in the future.
Alfred is a complex character that is both appreciated by his mentor and despised by aristocratic officers.
The injustice is plain, for noble officers are allowed to get away with almost anything and this is one of the indications of the state of empire.
Alfred Redl has an ambiguous attitude towards the opposite sex and is suspected of being “inverted”- I think this is the word they used.
Homosexuality was illegal and it actually still is in large parts of the world, with severe punishments in places- some have the death penalty, where the fundamentalists are ruling and they apply radical religious texts as fundament law.
In fact, the colonel could have been bisexual, or confused about his identity, sexual and otherwise, for he has at least an affair with a man.
Alfred’s relationship with Katalin is more profound, even if he has moments of paranoia, wherein he suspects everybody.
Finally, Colonel Redl becomes the head of the newly created Secret Police and that brings him extreme power.
He is told to find an enemy, a traitor that would serve as an example and whose trial could be mediatized…
- Yes, indeed, even in that day and age they were already concerned about the way different decisions would be reflected by the newspapers
There is racism and anti-Semitism, and Colonel Redl himself is suspected of being Jewish, on top of the “low, poor origins” that he had.
When he does find traitors, they are not good enough on account of political considerations that excluded every category except that of…Redl himself:
- Find a copy, a replica of yourself and that is the profile of our traitor…