"The most French of German directors, Volker Schlöndorff here follows up with the same relish the evocation of Nazism first touched upon in "The Tin Drum". In both films, his appeal to the fantastic makes for a transmutation of sordid horror into a grandiose opera of universal scope. "The Tin Drum" was Hitler as seen by Tom Thumb, here "The Ogres" rally to the cause. (...) Images, editing, sets, music : comment seems pointless in the face of Schlöndorff's consummate skill in springing traps and disarming obstacles. Little by little, from the depths of a mild and murky fascination surfaces the unease required of lucidity which gives way to a thankful bewilderment before the gripping subtlety of the tale that has enchanted us. Two astounding performances give added power to the role of Abel. Caspar Salmon, whose acting really shone through in "L'Elève", plays Abel the child. Followed up by John Malkovich, who brings his cool intensity, and offbeat serenity to bear upon this unlikely and immature magus of war-time disaster.(...)"
(Pierre Billard - Le Point)