(out of 5)
Klaus Maria Brandauer is perfectly cast as a man who got all of Germanic Europe under his sway with his forceful personality and claims at clairvoyance. Injured in battle during World War I, Klaus Schneider recovers and finds he has the ability to read thoughts, control others’ actions and predict the future. Once his talent gets out there under his new name and his past experience as a circus showman is thrown into the mix, his life’s progress, mirroring that of the increasingly powerful Adolf Hitler (with whom he shares a birthday) comes to mean danger for him as his own influence grows. Elegantly filmed and directed by Istvan Szabo, this one could use a little ironic skepticism to punctuate the many scenes of Hanussen basically being a superhero; much of it is based on his own autobiography and the film takes his claims with far too few grains of salt. There’s no doubt he’s a fascinating subject for film whether or not you accept his claims at power, however, and he is brilliantly served by the commanding screen presence of Brandauer, who makes you believe he could get you to do whatever he wanted as well.
Directed by Istvan Szabo
Cinematography by Lajos Koltai
Produced by Artur Brauner
Production Design by Jozsef Romvari