Castle Keep (1969) Review

Director: Sydney Pollack

Genre(s): Action, War

Runtime: 107 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

IMDb Page

Although it’s directed by Sydney Pollack, I like to describe Castle Keep as what a collaboration between John Milius and Luis Buñuel might look like it. During World War II, a squad of American soldiers have to hole themselves up in a medieval Belgian castle to stave off a Nazi offensive. This film is a rare animal, an arthouse picture with balls and badassery.

Castle Keep is a highly surreal and dreamlike movie that could’ve easily been titled “Un Chien Andalou Goes to War.” The dialogue is deliberate, yet full of non-sequiturs, and would come across as ludicrously pretentious if the flick wasn’t so bizarre and oneiric. It’s perhaps not an outright comedy, but it’s often oddly funny, just as good surrealism often is. This psychedelic film defies interpretation and is best enjoyed as a surprising piece of nonsense.

Contrasting with the dream logic are the movie’s joltingly realistic combat sequences. With the exception of the dialogue during these scenes, they feel like something out of a wannabe-authentic docudrama. The impressive pyrotechnics are worthy of note. The star of the show, Burt Lancaster as Major Abraham Falconer, keeps everything together in perfectly macho fashion, blasting away at Nazis with a fifty-caliber machine gun from atop the titular castle.

If I had to find any faults with Castle Keep, I might say that some of the supporting characters aren’t distinct enough and that the scene in the rosebushes goes on for a tad too long. Despite how otherworldly the whole thing feels, the conflicts in it feel strangely immediate. It’s definitely not for all tastes…it’s just too damn weird for that. However, if you like your surrealism fast-paced, comical, and tough-as-nails, this is one motion picture you won’t want to miss.

My rating is 8 outta 10.

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