Picks and Pans Review: Circle of Deceit

updated 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

The civil war in Lebanon forms the backdrop for this story about a West German journalist who goes to cover the conflict. Bruno Ganz plays the reporter, a war-hardened veteran who leaves a failing marriage behind to get the story. In Beirut, he hooks up with an old friend, Hanna Schygulla, who has lost her Arab husband and desperately wants to adopt a child. With her help, Ganz gets a close-up look at what years of devastation have wrought in Lebanon—rubble everywhere, children toting guns, and bodies littering the streets. In one scene, a rebel points his gun for the benefit of a photographer and asks which man he should shoot—"the one on the left, or the right?" Ganz soon realizes that he can no longer just report the conflict, and slowly gets involved in the killing. Schygulla, who was sensational in 1979's The Marriage of Maria Braun and last year's Lili Marleen, eloquently shows what it takes to survive in the daily horror that is Beirut. Director Volker Schlondorff, who made The Tin Drum in 1980, took cast and crew on location to Lebanon, and the risk is worth it. The aura of a country gone mad oozes from the screen. (In German with English subtitles) (R)

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