SRPSKI FILM is one of those names which will force you into some vicious circle. You will be fucked up after watching it; yet you are fucked up already, because you decided to watch it in the first place. Don’t know anybody, who would not be impressed, one way or another, because of this Serbian tale.
That disturbance came with a couple of layers. First one of course is formed because of the graphic violence and all the uneasy combinations of sexual nature, but this one can be slightly less shocking, if you are aware of the “classical” guineas or augusts.
Or if you are simply keeping up with the news – here in Lithuania we have a lot of those “she was cut in pieces after being raped repeatedly by her uncle” kind of stories. A year ago, there was a guy who made his own explosions and detonated himself while standing on the hill. Later on, pieces of him were eaten by local cats. Because, you know, hanging yourself in a barn just doesn’t cut it anymore.
What I am saying – this movie does not show anything what is not a reality of a human history and its twisted nature – the dark side of it, like the existence of rape or incest. Half of the early empires were built by inbred blood. One of the most effective ways of investigation always was torturing people. Remember concentration camps? Or forced labor camps in Siberia, where half of Lithuanian nation was having an all-included vacation – chopping wood at -40 C degrees, too. The great nation of Murrica provides the world with occasional school shooting now and then, not to mention children armies in Sudan or 8-year old Afghan brides.
Yet somehow, people prefer to live in a sugary illusion, that the negative side does not exist, or if it does, all of that is far away. Nobody likes negativity showed to your face. So when faced to something as controversial as SRPSKI FILM, they prefer to call it “the most shocking movie ever” and shame the creators because they put together many perverse combinations which were ever out there. But the truth is, SRPSKI FILM does not invent anything. It merely combines the dark side of humanity into one story, and the controversy here is raised only because everybody likes to think that shitty things do not happen to innocent people.
But anyway, what is really interesting in this movie is the second layer, and that would be, even sometimes forced, social criticism. We have Milos, a former adult movies star, who does his last gig, which at the beginning was supposed to be some kind of indie art porn flick. Milos was seen as a true artist in local industry, and that’s why he is asked to do the job. He is promised to get enough money to have a comfortable life for him and his family. So, first dilemma here is – how far one would go for money? If you live in some developing country, scrapping money to put your kid through singing lessons, and have a chance to do your swan song – would you do it?
Another issue would be privacy. The artsy movie, in which Milos star, is very similar to any kind of reality show. He doesn’t know the script – part of the events are staged, part is based on the flow of the moment. After some time, each element adds up and creates unbearable environment – being caged, being observed, being directed somewhere you do not want to go, but have to, because that is the word of the unseen hand. When you start to think about it, all the “reality” shows do the same – the invisible spectator comes into the private life and takes anything which was sacred about it in the first place.
I remember a big controversy about the first reality show in Lithuania, when a couple of participants had sex in front of the cameras. It was obviously too much for post-Soviet baby democracy, yet still – the buzz around it and involvement of everybody made you wonder – is everyone such a moralfag because it is really uncool to behave like this, or is it because bathing in the juice of somebody else’s private life is a very rewarding guilty pleasure? So again – how far is too far, how much of your private life can one sacrifice in order to get attention, money and fame?
Obviously, being observed, directed and punished, if not behaving properly, is the spine of censorship and auto/total itarian societies. Knowing a bit about the history of Serbia (basically, it became an independent country again, without any regimes on top of it, only on 2006), you can easily ask – Big Brother much?
I think one of the reasons why SRPSKI FILM was banned in some Western film festivals, was that Westerns do not have the needed knowledge and cultural context – do not “get” the paranoia, the fear of the unknown, the victim syndrome, which forms something as big as national identities under the pressure of the regime.
The movie mostly is seen as “something between the SAW and HUMAN CENTIPEDE”, slasher/horror stuff. In a way, it is, but it is also so much more. It is a metaphor for the decay of the Western civilization – that decay, which started long time ago. The form of it is bizarre, but so are the stories heard from the townsfolk, who lived under the regime (I remember my grandmother telling a story about how some Soviet soldiers came to her friend’s house and used a grater to grate the ass of said friend, and then put some salt on the fresh wound, because that was a fun activity for those soldiers, and winters are cold and boring here in Lithuania).
FILM needs preparation. And even with that, it is still wicked sick. Yet it is no snuff – the cinematography is brilliant, the plot is twisted and well prepared, it is multilayered and gives a lot food to the thought.
At least after watching it, you will be thinking, where are you headed with your life, if you actually enjoy this kind of stuff.