Dirk Bogarde does an excellent job in portraying a once-Hungarian, now German, who inherited a chocolate factory (do NOT think Willy Wonka!)from his father-in law. It's the early '30s; times are getting harder and harder. He's married to a perhaps attractive to him at one time (but not to him anymore--if ever) vapid German Jew, and is intelligent enough to see that--times will get even worse. He hates his life, increasingly, and more and more--stands apart from it (at the beginning of the film, while he is making love to his wife, he sees himself sitting against the wall of the room, observing the operation). He seems to relate to no one, and perhaps doesn't know how to, or even want to. Gradually, he sinks into insanity. He thinks he has hatched a scheme to make a "killing,"--but he hasn't. He mearly kills.
The film is so dark, and angular, and (occasionally) arty, that only Bogarde's acting (the rest of the cast is good, too) makes it really worth owning--but it should be seen, for that reason alone. As often with depictions of the insane, one is occasionally confused as to what is really happening, and what the protagonist THINKS is happening.
It's a very cold movie, and there's nothing to laugh at. For instance: early in the film, the protagonist has travelled some distance to do business with another chocolate manufacturer--and, for some reason, starts telling him a little about his life. He mentions his wife's dowrey--her weight in gold coin. "Upon examination," he says coldly, scornfully, despairingly, "the gold coins proved to be chocolate." Ordinarily, this line might evoke laughter, but because of the way he says it, it doesn't.
There is nothing to love. The sub-title ("A Journey into Light") is almost diametrically opposed to the truth of the story.
My VHS tape played perfectly, with no halts, fading, or extraneous background noises.