Monday, 7 February 2011

A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film
A Serbian Film, directed by Srdjan Spasojevic, is certainly shocking and offensive, though its reputation as sickening and unwatchable is unjustified. Maybe I'm too jaded, after prior exposure to Flower Of Flesh & Blood, Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, Salo, Blood Feast, Ichi The Killer, Aftermath, Irreversible, Men Behind The Sun, Nekromantik I-II, and August Underground's Mordum, but A Serbian Film seems like provocative exploitation rather than a pinnacle of obscenity.

Some sequences, such as the birth of a baby, the incestuous family reunion, and the death of the final bodyguard, resemble dramatic visualisations of The Aristocrats, with the director orchestrating the most disgusting acts he can think of. As in many other 'extreme' horror films, however, the concepts may be revolting though their executions are unrealistic and thus ineffective. The lead actor, for instance, wears an enormous prosthesis that's as absurd as those in XXX by La Fura dels Baus. An early decapitation scene, and the Grand Guignol finale, are so over-the-top that the gore becomes almost comic.

The film is also a bitter, nihilistic political allegory, in which the repressive Serbian government of the 1990s (notably the genocidal President Slobodan Milosevic) is represented by a Snuff movie director. Snuff movies have become an increasingly common theme in contemporary horror films, ever since the release of the low-budget exploitation film Snuff and, more recently, the mainstream thriller 8mm. The ultimate source of this trend is probably Peeping Tom, a film decades ahead of its time.

A Serbian Film is genuinely transgressive in its juxtapositions of sex, extreme violence, and children, and has therefore become highly controversial. Serbia has a tradition of cinematic provocation, notably Dusan Makavejev's WR: Mysteries Of The Organism.

7 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Sorry , you got it wrong that this is about the serbian government of the 90s . Please watch again with a more careful eye .

Mat said...

The political allegory is my *interpretation*. Whether or not the film is about politics is not a fact, it's an opinion. In my opinion, the film is about the Serbian government. In your opinion, it isn't. Interpretation and subtext are subjective.

Anonymous said...

That's what I keep hearing ; that the movie is open to "interpretation" . If that's the case , then you can say anything you want about it . But in actuality , the director must have a specific intent that most people haven't caught on to .

Anonymous said...

It's a question of whether you truly understand the movie or not . Everybody says they understand it and they talk about allegories and generalities but asked to explain a scene and how that fits that allegory , they don't have a clue .

Mat said...

Well, I've read interviews in which the director says that the film is a political commentary.

But Roland Barthes argued (in The Death Of The Author) that interpretation comes from the audience rather than the artist.

Surely a decent film will have several levels of interpretation, so to "truly understand it" would be hard to measure.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mat , I am not trying to be a jerk or anything . I respect your review of the movie . Just saying there is more going on here than you have been led to believe . When Spasojevic says it is a political allegory , the first thing you should ask yourself is who is in power in Serbia today . Another thing you should ask yourself , is who represents the Serbian government in the movie .
Who does Vukmir say is the only one that is not a victim ? Radivojevic says "our hero is in a way also a victim because he is not at the top of the pyramid".
Trust me , i know what I am talking about .

Mat said...

I'm sure you know what you're talking about, and I appreciate your commentd. I'm not really qualified to comment on the nuances of Serbian politics unfortunately, and anyway I was more interested in the transgressive content than the political subtext.