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Johanna ter Steege
Due to his sister's death, the 32 year old August returns and consequently abandons his profession as a missionary priest. His beloved sister Christina, who went from greatness to decay as the famous porn-star The Princess, is dead after years of drug abuse. She leaves behind her 5-year old daughter Mia, whom August feels obliged to take care of. Weighed down by grief and guilt he decides to revenge the dead of Christina - and takes Mia on a mission to destroy all existing pornographic material featuring The Princess. The mission escalates into a brutal and violent rout, where August is desperately trying to protect the only precious thing in his life, Mia, why he is forced to make a fatal decision. Written by
Martin Stoltenborg Christensen
As the film festival winds down and all the big stars leave the city, the reality of returning back to the normal life begins to sink in. But it's not totally over yet. There is still one more day left, tomorrow I get to watch Sheitan, which hopefully isn't Sheity as the title somehow suggests. Tonight, I saw Princess, which was everything but sheity.
Princess is a Denmark / German import that is comprised of 80% animation and 20% live action. The director, Anders Morgenthaler, puts together a picture that is definitely not something you see in theatres around here. There are a number of facets that make Morgenthaler's Princess stand up tall from the crowd (cliché #1). Firstly, the subject matter; the movie is about a priest who effectively quits his job and coherently scraps his religious beliefs when he allows his life to be rattled by rage and driven by violence. Secondly, the impetus behind the forthcoming violence has never been seen before. The priest (August) (Yes his name is also the name of the popular summer month) returns back to his hometown after hearing of his sister's death. What he learns from here only sickens his soul to the point of blinding his judgment of appropriate justice. He learns that his sister (Christina) (aka Princess) (her porn queen pseudonym) has died an unnecessary death due to the misogyny of Charlie, the president of Lust Paradise, the porno studio Christina worked for. Ironically, August the priest, reacts to this loss, not with sorrow and harmless grief, but with intense and violent vengeance.
The third facet then is the path of destruction that August sets forth on -- towards his ultimate goal of murdering Charlie. This is not your typical Pixar movie which keeps kid audiences giggling and upbeat, but rather a much more subdued, dark movie that consistently permeates a tone that makes you feel sorry and more sorry for the characters on screen. Not mentioned yet, but absolutely crucial to the cohesiveness of the story is Mia, Christina's under-loved, abused and emotionally scarred daughter. After Christina's death, she is taken under August's wings. August solemnly tells Christina that he will take care of her and never let her go. It is through August's acquaintance with his alienated niece, that he finds the straw that breaks his camel's back (Grrrreat cliché #2). He learns that August was assaulted by Charlie and later discovers he even sexually molested Mia. The child has seen the world through the wrong glasses and this irritates August up and through to the existential plane of frustration. He believes Mia does not deserve to live in this kind of reality, and she doesn't need a matriarchal role model who has sex for a living. In a disturbing and emotionally awkward scene, Mia joins some children in the courtyard of August's apartment for a game of doctor. Since the roles of the doctor, nurse and patient were already taken - Mia feels obligated to succumb to the only role she knows; a whore. After announcing this, the children react apprehensively, but curiously play along. In the next cut, the nurse has left, leaving the doctor and the patient or the two boys with Mia, the whore. From a low angle, we see Mia almost teasing the boys with her skirt as she slowly lifts it up and over her crotch. Awed by this novel experience the boys dumbfoundedly ask what to do. From witnessing her mother on home movies, Mia naturally and naively tells one of the boys to get on top of her. At this point, the situation gets tense when one of the boys picks up a twig and connotatively suggests another fashion of entry. Mia still has some ounce of moral judgment to realize this is wrong and resists, but the boys push forward until --- oops, you'll have to watch the movie, because I'm getting drowsy!
It is powerful scenes like this which poignantly drive the audience through a series of long thoughtful gazes to satisfying sentiments of fitting vengeance and brutalization (it's not healthy to repress anything, including our inner most prehistoric instincts!). Princess shines in a genre of it's own which resists calling itself: an action movie, a drama, a dark comedy, a cartoon, a live-action movie or an unsheity movie because Princess does not holistically fit into any one of these groups, because it belongs in all of them. Kudos to Denmark for releasing such an unbarred film that liberates viewers with a penchant for cerebral activity to think beyond convention!
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