From literatura to cinema: the myth as a support for expressionism in Malpertuis (1971)

Marco Aurélio Rodrigues


Along the twentieth century, many were the movies that made use of the myth as a support for the themes they addressed. Mostly, the myth is taken as a form of allusion to the fantastic, which is strengthened as movies improve their technology and production of special effects. However, Malpertuis (1971), by Harry Kümel, based on the homonymous book of Jean Ray (1943), belongs to a select group of movies that, adapted from literature to cinema, succeeds in keeping itself close to its literary work reference, besides making a more profound use of the myth rather than merely fanciful. Such accomplishment, to a large extent, is related to the use the writer makes of the mythic theme as a support to his discussions about the expressionist esthetics, but, also, to the approach of the director, who, in a construction that transits among the fantasy, the oneiric and the terror, questions ongoing beliefs, bringing from the ancient classics more than only deities, but also the notorious opposition between human and divine aspects.

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