Cinema: Paying Dues

MEPHISTO

Directed by István Szabo Screenplay by István Szabo and Peter Dobai

The subject could not be more serious: an actor's gradual betrayal of political, not to mention moral, principle in return for professional advancement in Nazi Germany. The style could not be more surprising. One has come to expect material of this kind to be set forth in a tone of grim and stately foreboding. Instead, Mephisto, a Hungarian-German coproduction that richly deserved its Oscar as this year's Best Foreign Film, moves with a feverish back-staginess, a rushing, unbalancing energy that not...

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