Seldom has anybody captured a sense of global despair quite like Roland Klick in his outstanding second feature, ‘Deadlock’.
Klick filmed it in the Negev Desert, near to Israel’s nuclear weapon facility and its rehearsal site for the country’s attack on the Egyptian airfields ahead of the Six-Day War. It’s the most inhospitable of places; desolate, arid, windswept, almost non-terrestrial in its appearance and with death in the air.
‘Deadlock’ arrived in the old West Germany during 1970 and received its only official theatrical release courtesy of Denmark two years later. Cult status – cinema’s essential safety net – rescued it from almost certain oblivion and, even now, it remains unknown in many quarters notwithstanding its high profile and vocal fans including the Chilean master of film provocation/arthouse cult, Alejandro Jodorowsky.
It is the ultimate acid Western, with a psychopathic anti-hero going through the motions anaesthetised to everything and existing – and no more – in a terrible violent nihilism of his own making. Even a prolonged (anti)climatic standoff cannot awake its protagonists from an overpowering ennui where they, seemingly, have little or no interest in the outcome. One cannot be arsed to get out of his chair and the other barely seems to notice.
The astonishing opening scene has the sardonically named ‘The Kid’ moving towards us from the far distance, swaying and wobbling uncontrollably until collapsing before the camera and almost falling out of the screen ‘Radio Days’ style. Playful casting has Marquard Bohm in the part; his generic Rock star appearance looking more suited to ‘Spinal Tap’ with the opening suggestive of a drug fuelled trip gone horribly wrong.
Mario Adorf plays Charles Dump, a wonderful hybrid between a Palestinian revolutionary and Mexican bandit, who notionally works for a mining company and lives in an abandoned village with a prostitute and her daughter. Dump claims to have some kind of law enforcement role but seems more interested in getting his hands on the Kid’s suitcase, stuffed to the brim with dollar notes. Overcome by indecision – or, more precisely, fear – he fluctuates between removing a bullet from the Kid’s arm – echoed in a broken arm of a nostalgic model cowboy swinging high above the action – and smashing his head to smithereens or some other convenient killing.
And then there is Sunshine, the Kid’s partner in crime come to collect his share of the proceeds from an unspecified bank job. Scottish actor, Anthony Dawson, best known for playing Captain Lesgate (Swann) in ‘Dial M for Murder’, does a superb job as the charming death machine, who encapsulates malevolence in his every word, smile and movement. More inverted symbolism – Klick composes everything with an artist’s eye – has a blinding sun in close-up; an awesome, severe and hostile motif and play on the character’s name.
Three is a crowd and so on but the plot becomes irrelevant. This is the end of an era, a decade’s false hopes and the Western genre, all wrapped up into a Cold War apocalyptic nightmare that fires its metaphorical bullets at the audience.
Not before time, the Goethe-Institut London, in collaboration with the Cambridge Film Festival and Berlin’s Filmgalerie, is spear-heading renewed interest in Klick’s work.cialis 100mg online cialis for sale online in canadageneric cialis tadalafil 40 mgcialis retail price