Michael Mann, “The Keep”

Despite its dubious comprehensibility and some truly baffling production decisions, Michael Mann’s 1983 flick “The Keep” is an enjoyable watch and has a lot going for it. The photography is very good, and the locations (Wales, doubling as the Carpathians) certainly lend themselves to being photographed. The compositions are very painterly– horizontal spreads with offset “pressure points” (I have no formal training in art stuff, so I have to make up my own terms for these things), and soft-focus chiaroscuro lighting that plays well on dusty 80’s film stock. Mann loves to show slow-developing change within a single shot– day turning to dusk, night turning to morning, and the film contains a remarkable trick pull-away shot that first reveals scale, then substance, then action. As a bonus, a predictably cool score by Tangerine Dream, whose personnel included at that time Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke, and Johannes Schmoeling. Required viewing for any scholar of C-grade pop culture treatments of Nazi occultism.


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