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Srpski film (2010)
Desperate times: A quick analysis of A Serbian Film
If you don't live on a country with grand difficulties or, more precisely, in a Third World Country you'll, probably, not have a good grasp of the politics behind the scenes. You will only see the images and the images will block most attempts to really reach the message. You will only see gratuitous violence; rape and murder; vileness, and the most dark side of human existence. But the grotesqueries are only story and A Serbian Film is a movie about ideas; to judge such a work by its images is meaningless.
The political statement is relentlessly in front from the very start of the story; but you can miss if your focus goes solely to the image's surfaces on screen; the characters feelings about their country are poured out in almost every dialogue, directed or undirected, and questions come to mind: Is it Serbia that bad? I know mine own homeland is it, but is it theirs also trapped in horrible predicaments that ruin their society in every level? The elite maintain the status quo of such a disturbing scenario? Although there isn't any supernatural element on the movie the story is not plausible enough for us to see as merely a mimetic portrait of a horrible incident. There is, in the undergrounds of our society, such videos depicting acts condemned by society and enjoyed by some of the very circles that'll public condemn it; sickeningly shocking images of rape and assault on children and women and anyone who falls under their hands; the people who create the conditions for others to be at the maximum distress exploit these distressed people and manipulate them at their will, and some people will sell their child's (and their own) body for such horrors, because money rules our world, and we need it to sustain ourselves, and as long there's someone willing to pay for something there'll be someone willing to do it, whatever maybe. This obscure elite is the one to blame at a first degree, but there's another monster that feeds itself the veins of poor tortured souls, and that is the government and that is this movie's prey; the source of evil that no one can eradicate.
Once a great writer wrote: As long as I live under the capitalistic system, I expect to have my life influenced by the demands of moneyed people. Is not a crime try to provide food for your family in the best way your individual self can. Judge a father or a mother for the profession they follow is absurd; when nobody will give them the minimum for their necessities they should be free to provide for themselves in any non-criminal way they see fit. Milos is such a person; he had enjoyed his work although he says the contrary, stating that he only enjoy the money. He needs money and his career as a porn-star has been stagnant for a while. He could have search for another kind of job, low level jobs perhaps. But without the knowledge of the precise situation of the country in question we cannot say for certain if that is an option, if there is or isn't easy ways to get a job in a supermarket or a mall, for example, just for the time that one is trying to resume one's former career, just to sustain one's basic needs. All this without regard the prejudice he could suffer in this hypothetical quest for a different job.
Milos decline the job for a supposedly great artistic porn movie after participating on a few takes and seeing what was it really about. After his decline he's taken by force and end up doing the work anyway; even against his conscious will; he can't fight the tremendous power exerted on him, he becomes an automatic man who will simply do what he is told to do, what the people with the money and power over his existence want him to do. The parallel with living under a kind of dictatorship or a totalitarian regime is very clear and yet seems shattered and obscured for most people's eyes because of the horrific images on the screen. However, the images themselves can serve a purpose in showing how bad can everything get in a given situation; a few bad turns and we read the recipe of a great catastrophe.
Now, the images, the scenes, the so called gratuitous violence and gore depicted in the movie aren't what you might expect; great part is reserved for the imagination, even in the version without cuts. A Serbian Film is violent and extreme, but not as the cult myth surrounding it suggests.
The actors took their roles very seriously and acted at such, it seems that their feelings were also put in the film; that they agreed with the critique of their society and country. The actor's performances look as if they were protesting in unison. The two main characters breathe the life of the actors who interpreted them. In a simple genre exploitation movie we wouldn't see these powerful performances and such a commitment with the project.
A Serbian Film is very well shot, lucid; the cinematography is beautiful at times but never gets too much in an "artistic" vein or too complex so to get in the way of the ideas that it is trying to convey; the narrative flows in a straightforwardness that anyone can follow. The images are shocking, but never too exploitive, never glorifying the violence, never spilling blood simply for making it violent and horrifying. At the end even the story falls off of a merely genre film and shows us the quick ruin of a family in our decadent contemporary times and every shot seems to carry the weight of this very deterioration. And the ideas behind the story are more horrific than the images shown, and these can be seen as reflect images of the depraved society preying against its victims.