In the tomb-like quiet of their ranch-style purgatory, a divorced husband and wife fight a wordless war while mourning an unspeakable mutual loss. A sadistic lover's ritual humiliation spawn... Read allIn the tomb-like quiet of their ranch-style purgatory, a divorced husband and wife fight a wordless war while mourning an unspeakable mutual loss. A sadistic lover's ritual humiliation spawns both tenderness and revenge.In the tomb-like quiet of their ranch-style purgatory, a divorced husband and wife fight a wordless war while mourning an unspeakable mutual loss. A sadistic lover's ritual humiliation spawns both tenderness and revenge.
- Das junge Mädchen
- (as Franziska Weiß)
Deeply disturbing and great film
This film has got to be ranked as one of the most disturbing and arresting films in years. It is one of the few films, perhaps the only one, that actually gave me shivers: not even Pasolini´s Sálo, to which this film bears comparison, affected me like that. I saw echoes in the film from filmmakers like Pasolini, Fassbinder and others. I had to ask myself, what was it about the film that made me feel like I did? I think the answer would be that I was watching a horror film, but one that defies or even reverses the conventions of said genre. Typically, in a horror film, horrible and frightening things will happen, but on the margins of civilized society: abandoned houses, deserted hotels, castles, churchyards, morgues etc. This handling of the subject in horror is, I think, a sort of defence mechanism, a principle of darkness and opacity functioning as a sort of projective space for the desires and fears of the viewer. So, from this perspective, Hundstage is not a horror film; it takes place in a perfectly normal society, and so doesn´t dabble in the histrionics of the horror film. But what you see is the displacement of certain key thematics from the horror genre, especially concerning the body and its violation, the stages of fright and torture it can be put through. What Seidl does is to use the settings of an everyday, middle class society as a stage on which is relayed a repetitious play of sexual aggression, loneliness, lack and violation of intimacy and integrity: precisely the themes you would find in horror, but subjected to a principle of light and transparency from which there is no escape. It is precisely within this displacement that the power of Seidl´s film resides. Hundstage deals with these matters as a function of the everyday, displays them in quotidian repetition, rather than as sites of extremity and catharsis - a move you would encounter in said horror genre. One important point of reference here is Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Fassbinder also had a way of blending the political with the personal in his films, a tactics of the melodrama that allowed him to deal in a serious and even moral way with political issues like racism, domination, desire, questions concerning ownership, sexual property and control, fascism and capitalism etc. Seidl´s tactic of making the mechanisms of everyday society the subject of his film puts him in close proximity with Fassbinder; like this German ally, he has a sort of political vision of society that he feels it is his responsibility to put forward in his films. During a seminar at the Gothenburg Film Festival this year, at which Seidl was a guest, he was asked why he would have so many instances of violated, subjugated women in Hundstage, but no instances of a woman fighting back, liberating herself. Seidl replied that some may view it as immoral to show violence against women, but that he himself felt it would be immoral not to show it. An artistic statement as good as any, I think. Thank you.
- Mar 28, 2002
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