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September 1978 (Canada)  »

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Fightening and Fascinating
18 March 2002 | by (Montreal, Canada) – See all my reviews

The Yugoslavian film "Satiemania" by Zdenko Gasparovic, is the most relentlessly violent film I have seen since "Fantasmagorie". However, where Emile Cohl's use of violence was merely for comic effect, Gasparovic's use of violence has a creepier effect, and of course, a more metaphoric meaning. It doesn't hurt that these strange images are complimented with the music of Erik Satie. Actually, this film is a great introduction to his work, although it leaves out his best known (and my favorite) piece, "Gymnopedie No. 1". This is forgivable though, for it leaves more room to introduce more works by this overlooked composer, none of which I had heard before I first saw this film.

Some of the imagery reminds me of a surreal sequence from Ralph Bakshi's "Heavy Traffic", specifically the parts with the fast paced music. There is one such part in "Satiemania" that is almost painful to watch. It is a rapidly paced montage of various cartoon characters getting shot, stabbed, beaten, and maimed, all in explicit, gory detail. I have a feeling this could be a reflection of Gasparovic's rage at being an unfulfilled artist. I looked up his filmography on the Internet Movie Database. Not only was Satiemania not even listed (something I later corrected), but his only two credits were as an animator. One for the original "Scooby-Doo" TV show, and one for that awful Canadian made film "The Nutcracker Prince" (1990). No wonder he's angry! I don't blame him.

Of course, some of the violent, disturbing imagery had a less jarring, but more haunting effect. Probably the most unsettling (and my favorite) image comes from a sequence set to a slow, melodic piece. An old, dinosaur-like woman eats a piece of cake. She bites great chunks off and gnaws on them greedily, spewing pieces everywhere. Then, without even flinching, she bites off the last piece. ALONG WITH HALF HER HAND! Blood spews everywhere, but the lady takes no notice. She continues to chew, staring blankly into the camera, as it slowly zooms forward. I get chills just thinking about that image, an excellent metaphor for all consuming greed.


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