The development of technology allowed filmmakers to embody the most hideous of human fears in a very literal, visceral manner. Back in time, there were taboos, which were either completely avoided or left as unsaid, albeit a few directors kept pushing the line in provoking the critics and audience – just to mention Bunuel, Franju or Tarkowski. Nevertheless, audacity of modern filmmakers goes both directions – uncomfortably disturbing on one hand and extremely astonishing on the other.
There are directors, who definitely divide audiences into two separate groups, thanks to their films. Even though Lars Von Trier’s “Breaking the waves” was artfully directed, there was an acceptable line, which the Danish filmmaker didn’t cross. Unfortunately, he directed “Antichrist”… There is no other such deranged, pathology-weaven, but also lethally boring movie in the history – some claimed it’s pure bravery, whilst others recommended Von Trier paying a visit in a psycho ward. Despite these arguments, he surely achieved his goal – he generated a truly heated debate. I was personally almost offended by “Antichrist”, feeling tricked into a beautifully shot and astonishingly filmed piece of ****. Cutting off clitoris, talking foxes, smashing testicles and ejaculating with blood are not a proof for actors’ devotion to the director’s vision – it’s rather a trio of really mentally unstable people.
Nevertheless, the barriers go far more than that. Have you heard about “Serbian Film”? That’s also one of the stupidest flicks ever directed, with pointless, hardcore violence mixed with perverse sex, rapes etc. But wait, there’s more – “The Human Centipede” trilogy pushed the limits even further, bringing the infamous “ass-to-mouth” idea from porn industry into cinemas. Obviously, one cannot forget gore classics like “Saw”, which could be treated as a manual for those, who wish to become a depraved psychopath killer. “The Hills Have Eyes” also introduced one of the most disgusting and disturbing scenes in the history of cinema, where an appalling mutant uses a helpless girl as his sex toy… When it comes to sex, it is no longer a taboo as well, but some artists really miss their true genre. “Q”, a French erotic drama, is essentially a shocking movie, which main purpose was to give a psychological aspect to a nicely directed porn. Nudity is beautiful and there is nothing wrong with it, but do we really want and need to watch zoom-ins of vaginas in cinemas? Another flagitious piece of cinematography was German “Feuchtgebiete” – even though it touched quite an interesting dilemma, David Wnendt, the director, did not save his audiences – if you feel confused when talking about intimate topics, then don’t watch it.
Using violence in cinema is ubiqituous and unavoidable, but brilliant directors realize how powerful this tool really is. Gratuitous use of violence in movies of Quentin Tarantino became his own trademark – the brutality in his flicks is so over-drawn, exxagerated in every way, it becomes hilarious and sometimes even poetic. Justin Kurzel in his “Snowtown Murders” debut has shown so much abominable and disastrous violence, that he could compete for the title of the most disturbing movie of all time – but there is a trick. His film was brilliantly directed and the use of violence only strengthened the psychological shower for audiences. Brutal homicides were matched with ominous music and stunning cinematography – “Snowtown Murders”were like a heavy hammer, which eventually landed on my head. A Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro created a masterpiece, mixing a depressing child drama with some grievous war background and a very dark tale in “Pan’s Labirynth”. He intentionally pushed the violence to the limits, but it paid off – his truly frightening “fairytale” was an absolute hit. Finally, let’s not forget about the Coen Brothers, whose peculiar directing always finds some space to present some savage reality (“Fargo” anyone?).
It’s impossible to draw the line distingushing when there’s a moment to stop. Violence should be treated as a means of communicating, of transmitting the particular emotions to the audience. There is always a group of people, who will enjoy even the most irrational, dire and twisted films, but nowadays – their number is drastically rising. And yet it remains to be defined where will be the acceptance line, the equilibrium for both filmmakers and moviegoers. All in all, both sides should feel satisfied, right?
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