'Encounters in the Dark' is an East German-Polish co-production with dialogue largely in German. It begins like a contemporaneous Ross Hunter glossy with acclaimed pianist Magdalena Novak due to make her first visit to Germany since she had been put to work during the war as a slave labourer in a shoe factory near Auschwitz, to which the film then flashes back.
Zofia Slaboszowska brings elegant presence to the role of Magdalena as she clicks about in high heels in her chic fifties suits (both in her wartime & present day scenes). Apart from one scene worthy of Sirk when handsome factory owner Ernst Steinlieb shows his appreciation of Magdalena's prowess at the keys by presenting her with a rose, much of what follows is diffuse and uninvolving; and it's only when it returns to the present day that the film takes a memorable turn in a contrived but lively finale pointing the finger at postwar West Germany's continued failure to square with its Nazi past.
Another detail that sets 'Encounters in the Past' apart from anything Ross Hunter would have made is the modern music by Stanisław Skrowaczewski that Magdalena chooses to play whenever seated at a piano. Hunter would have had her play Chopin.
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