On the night of the 1933 Reichstag fire, steel magnate Joachim von Essenbeck is shot to death in his villa. Herbert Thalmann, a liberal who has married into the family, is framed by relatives in cahoots with the Nazis. He manages to flee abroad, but his wife Elisabeth remains behind, forced to stand by as the real perpetrators advance their careers within the family company. Friedrich Bruckmann, with the help of an SS officer, manages to do away with Essenbeck's son and heir; but Bruckmann, in turn, is deposed to make way for Essenbeck's paedophile grandson. Elisabeth, meanwhile, has landed in a concentration camp …
A Nibelungenlied set in the Ruhrpott. In Visconti's dark family saga, an opulent celebration of the moral bankruptcy of a German industrialist dynasty, Charlotte Rampling plays Elisabeth Thalmann, the only ray of light. Beautiful, elegant, fragile, and vulnerable, she becomes the victim of a gang of villians. "La caduta degli dei" is grand guignol. But for Charlotte Rampling, playing the adversary of Dirk Bogarde, as opportunist Bruckmann, was above all a prelude – to her role in "Il portiere di note" ("The Night Porter"), which would become a defining moment in her career.
Source: 69. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Catalogue)