The underlying theme here in Duet For Cannibals is that of power, and how the powerful love to mess with the heads and lives of those who do not possess the same amount of power as they do. The film is a little clunky and boring at times, but in the last hour, it is incredibly fascinating to see the machinations of the power dynamic of the Bauer’s with Tomas and Ingrid develop until they hit a fever pitch. There are no reasons offered as to why the Bauers may have played these games with people, except just because they can. While this is certain to be a truth in reality, for a film, it leaves the viewer feeling somewhat dissatisfied at the end. I think that was Sontag’s objective, although it’s impossible to say for sure.
“…no reasons offered as to why the Bauers may have played these games with people, except just because they can.”
As a historical document, Duet For Cannibals is worth watching as to see what Susan Sontag’s first voyage into the world of film was like. As a film, I’d say that if you love the works of Bergman and films like Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice then you will enjoy this movie. If you prefer your films to be a little less heady, it might be best to skip this one. I do appreciate that Metrograph re-released this film for a new audience, and I’m honestly curious to find out who that audience is comprised of, considering today’s world and that of the late ’60s are very different.
"…Francesca has a thing for Tomas...and Bauer floats back and forth between caring and not caring."