Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lunacy (Jan Svankmajer, 2005)

Czech stop-motion animator Jan Svankmajer's new film is billed, at least on its IMDB page, as a horror film, and while there are some terrifying elements, I would call it more of a exploration of morality. At least, it's not a horror film in the traditional sense. A young man who has just lost his mother, who had been institutionalized, accepts a ride from a Marquis. Jean ends up staying at the Marquis' house for a few days, witnesses a bizarre religious ritual, and plays an unwilling part in the Marquis' therapy. Once Jean and the Marquis get to the local institution, and meet Dr. Murlloppe and his "daughter" Charlotte, all pretenses of normalcy are gone.

The scenes at the institution before the revolution (the less said about the plot, the better your viewing experience will be) are surreally wonderful: patients doing "art therapy" by painting a naked woman, feathers and chickens everywhere, and even a living reproduction of "Liberty Leading the People." When Dr. Coulmiere enters the movie, the real horror comes through, and as he explains the thirteen corporal punishments used to fix the mind, chills ran down my spine. The last ten minutes of the film, with treatment thirteen and Charlotte and Coulmiere's discussion, are truly terrifying, and speak to the depths of depravity possible in every human's soul.

Svankmajer's point can easily be simplified, as he does in his taped introduction to the film, to the fact that both extremes - complete liberty and complete control - can be equally bad, but add in Svankmajer's trademark animation present between each scene, that of pieces of meat and organs sliding around and doing human-esque things, add a layer of complexity and imagery to that moral. Maybe Svankmajer just wanted to make a scary, creepy film based on the writings of de Sade and Poe, but I think there's a lot underneath the surface. This is a movie that's horror stays with you, without much blood or creeps. I definitely recommend it, if you can find it.


RIYL: Little Otik

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