The Keep

The Keep ★★★★½


An unresolved tumble into the ether. Michael Mann begins in the light of the sky and tilts down towards a convoy of Nazis as they arrive at a dead end, one of human fragility and limitation. Their aspirations of a higher force, a plane beyond mere moral existence, is the cusp of the incomprehensible beauty and horror of Mann's tattered masterwork, but the meat is in how they do not see the dead-end in front of them, which is impossible to overcome. It is only to see, never to touch. One of Mann's greatest final shots, with a cut to credits for the ages, and a stunning achievement of existential production design - the titular 'keep' is designed from the inside out, aligning itself with the evils within and the wandering personas of the ensemble. Its roaming fog, sexual thrust for knowledge and power, and Gothic trappings each find their own mini-narratives to construct, even if the larger through-line is mostly unintelligible. Pregnant with glorious, rapturous images that only Mann has an eye and a heart for (that sex scene is a WOW), a chilly, edge-of-the-world setting, and bits and pieces of indelible performances scattered amongst its run-time. Fuck the connective tissue, it's a heavenly movie; all backed by the orgasmic synths of Tangerine Dream.

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