Die Fälschung (Circle of Deceit)
With the recent events in Israel and Lebanon, Volker Schlöndorff’s 1981 film feels quite fitting. The great German actor Bruno Ganz (Downfall) plays a journalist who heads to Lebanon on assignment while his marriage dissolves back in Hamburg. Of course the film tries to connect the disintegration of the marriage with a country’s breakdown in war, and it is actually pulled off well, but the relationship aspect is merely a backdrop to Ganz’s experience in Beirut. His character, Georg Laschen, lands in Beirut at a hotel caught in the middle of the fighting in 1975, during the Lebanese Civil War between Christians and Palestinians. The film tries to tell its story through civilians and soldiers caught in the midst of the conflict and in the process paints a very human face on war—albeit while using some gratuitous violence. Still, Schlöndorff manages the feel of a news report while Laschen and his photographer Hoffman find public executions, arms sales and the grisly work to cover-up the crimes. Laschen begins to lose his neutrality and interest in his wife when he encounters a German ex-pat. A bleak and uncompromising look at war shot in the ruins of Beirut.