Luzifer is distinguished not only by its excellent spatial and image management, but also by a deep symbolism and a subtle ambiguity that we perceive from the very first minutes. At the Diagonale’22.
Hell and Heaven
Young director Peter Brunner has always enjoyed playing with light, shadows and sound in order to create evocative atmospheres that touch us deeply. If, therefore, over the years, this personal approach has been noticed and appreciated at numerous international festivals, it now seems even more extreme – or, better still, it seems to have found its own fulfilment – in Luzifer, made in 2021, produced by Ulrich Seidl and premiered first at the Locarno Film Festival 2021, then at the Diagonale’22, where it was awarded Best Sound in a Feature Film.
Inspired by real events, then, Luzifer stages the eternal struggle between tradition and globalisation, between nature and capitalism, in a highly symbolic story with subtle horror overtones. Maria (masterfully played by artist Susanne Jensen) lives with her son Johannes (Franz Rogowski) in a remote mountain cabin. The woman is extremely religious, as well as being overprotective of Johannes, even though he is now an adult. Their life, however, seems to run quietly until, suddenly, drones start flying through the air: the area where they live is about to be turned into a kind of tourist village, soon many trees will be cut down and new buildings will be constructed. The devil is now coming.
Strongly impactful images, amplified and disturbing sounds, the mountains that act as silent spectators and, together with the birds looked after by Johannes, seem to know best what is about to happen. Luzifer is immediately striking in its aesthetics. Peter Brunner, for his part, has devoted himself particularly to the care of the images, in which strongly contrasting colours, together with the alienating loneliness in which the two protagonists live, immediately presage an imminent tragedy.
Everything is taken to the extreme in Luzifer. The mother-son relationship is quite ambiguous and, alongside a deep, almost maniacal religiosity, seems to conceal a hidden eroticism. Johannes is now an adult, yet he has remained almost a child. He speaks with difficulty and only distinguishes good from evil according to what his mother taught him. The woman, for her part, does everything in her power to protect her world, or, better still, is almost an integral part of that world destined to vanish forever. Her very existence is closely linked to that small, delicate corner of Paradise.
Luzifer is a film that cannot leave us indifferent. A feature film that stands out not only for its excellent spatial and image management, but also for its deep symbolism and a subtle ambiguity that we perceive from the very first minutes. Peter Brunner has thus created one of his most mature and important works, made even more precious by the excellent performances of the two protagonists. A universal, extremely topical and original story. The world is changing. And what lies ahead isn’t any good.
Original title: Luzifer
Directed by: Peter Brunner
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 103’
Genre: horror, drama
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Susanne Jensen, Theo Blaickner, Monika Hinterhuber, Clemens Göbl, Erwin Geisler, Markus Eibl
Screenplay: Peter Brunner
Cinematography: Peter Flinckenberg
Produced by: Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion