WTF? Film Review: Melancholie Der Engel (The Angel’s Melancholy).

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Hmmm!  How does one start here?

Okay, the truth.  I really enjoyed this movie.

Did I find it the most disturbing thing I’d ever seen?  No.  The most extreme?  Yes.

The difference between the two–disturbing/extreme–is a question of what offends you.  But . . . being a writer of extreme fiction, I admit it takes quite a bit to upset my stomach.

One of the first things you note about Melancholie is that it’s a serious film.   Which I suspect is another problem audiences have with it:  It’s beautifully directed and produced and has a fantastic soundtrack, and the epic 2 ½ hour length . . .

And all for what?  To watch people act out their depraved fantasies?

But why not?

Now, In case you wonder why I mention the length–I normally don’t watch any movie that runs for two hours, but this case I did.  And didn’t regret a moment of the time spent.  In fact–also a disturbing point about this movie–I recall thinking at about the 45-minute mark (before the madness began) that what had played up till then would work perfectly as a short film about a very surreal/odd night out.

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Now onto the good/bad sh*t depending on which side you fall.

The violence, rape, torture, coprophilia, necrophilia?  It is a horror film, it’s meant to horrify you, right?  Yes, I know there’s another sort of horror that aims to actually scare you, but trust me, this isn’t it.  This falls soundly in the ‘uugh, how could they even think of doing that?’ category of movie.

Rest assured for one, that people in wheelchairs with colostomy bags will likely be calling for Marian Dora’s head for ages to come.  And Margarethe Von Stern, who plays the crippled Clarissa, definitely deserves an award for her performance.  Haven’t seen anyone so convincingly scared in ages.

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[Trust me.  You’ve no idea why she’s making this face, and you really don’t want to know.]

Okay, part 2 of the good/bad sh*t, although this is really all bad:  the animal cruelty stuff/snuff.

I need to make a point here:  I’m not an ‘animal lover.’  By that I simply mean that all lower vertebrate species (by which I mean everything that isn’t human) are peripheral to my scheme of existence.  Essentially I don’t think about animals.  I don’t pamper them, I don’t abuse them either.  So you can interpret my next comments in the light of this knowledge.

Definitely pass this by if you’ve a thing for pets or wildlife.  You’ve been warned.  Except of course, you’re looking to watch something you know you’ll hate so you can campaign against it.

My opinion about all the animal killings?  It’s complicated.

The poor cat?  Well the best I can say is that they got it high first, hopefully, it didn’t feel its passing too much, felt dying was just a bad trip.  😦

Do I agree with Marian Dora’s approach of actually killing animals to make his film in this day of advanced CGI.  No (though it does save money).   Do I think it worked in making the film what is?  Yes.

That’s the problem.  It does f*cking work.  This movie was made to shock.  To disturb.  It shocks, it disturbs.  Even without the animal snuff, trust me.  So why put it in? you’ll ask.  I guess just to shock you more.

A slight (maybe amusing) diversion.  Some people are going to rail on me:  ‘Oh no, I didn’t enjoy it, I was just so pissed off!’  ‘How the hell could he do that!’  ‘That Satanist cocksucker killed a cat!’  ‘This was just a total waste of time, utter crap,’ ‘It wasn’t horrific at all, just an infantile obsession with scat and pee!’

Dude, are you serious?  And yet you got up sufficient vitriol to write about it?  Admit it . . . It f*cking bothered you.

Being bothered is often simply our rejection of another’s concept of art.  Sometimes, it’s being (justifiably) disturbed that there are minds out there thinking such odd (read: sick, warped, unholy, anti-ethical, immoral, fucked-up) concepts.  People you wish the US government would lock away permanently in Guantanamo Bay.

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Another thing I enjoyed about this movie?  It’s not trying to teach me anything.  It can’t.  It doesn’t have a single character in it that I could possibly desire to learn anything from.  Which is joyously refreshing.  I honestly don’t think I’m the only person tired of filmmakers sticking their point of view into everything they make.  Just tell the f*n story, dude, keep your wanking for later.

A reviewer commented that all the characters were unlikeable.  Maybe so, but eighty percent of movies I get to see nowadays star characters no one in their right senses (sometimes not even parents) could like in real life, and yet whom Hollywood presents to everyone as role models. So It’s actually nice to just have people you’re not being told it’s politically correct to like.

But then here’s the catch (22?):  Because you’re not being told to like these people, you’ll find you actually don’t dislike them either.  Okay, except you’re wheelchair bound and wear a colostomy bag, and I assure you that I’m not being flippant here.  You have no f*n idea.

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Melancholie deserves to be viewed because of what it dares to put onscreen.

I think that’s the keyword here: ‘DARES.’

There are scenes in this flick I’d never have imagined anyone would dare film in a SERIOUS movie; and I honestly doubt anyone will ever dare to do again.   One short segment during the bonfire scene right near the end (2:26:30) sticks with me.  It’s partly smoke-obscured, but clear enough.  I’m still blinking.  Did I actually see that?  Oh, no, tell me I didn’t f*cking just see that.

In conclusion?  Melancholie Der Engel is a tortuous unending sequence of horrible/disgusting/disturbing/offensive things that you’d rather not see onscreen.  Honestly!  But it’s also a harrowing reality much greater than the sum of its sleazy/perverted little parts.

And when people shrill and scream and say ‘Ban it, Ban it!  Try! Jail! Fine! Crucify the director!’ they miss the point.  To get that reaction from them–THAT IS the whole point of the film.  For being that fearless, I’ve got to commend the director, Marian Dora.   I’d never dare make Melancholie Der Engel in a million years.

Rating this is a no brainer.  Easily 10/10.

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7 comments

  1. You raise a good point about the film provoking people enough to get into a frothy rage and go to the effort of posting said rage on the internet. The fact that that occurs just proves the film’s effectiveness.

    I don’t think many horror films do that anymore, which is why when I find a film that keeps me up at night and reflecting on what I just watched, I make sure to recommend it.

    1. …just to give a little bit of ¨more¨ about what was already said from the reviewer, I want to add…mmn…..nope, you did it with the right timing and ended it the best way I could ever imagine it. Just check all the YouTube opinions from other users (and MinE, somewhere in there), cause I really think you got my same freaking point of view about the movie (I´m a native Spanish speaker, so I know your vocabulary is grater than mine so I prefer not to say anything else about this movie…): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxpyWaJwkVo

  2. Meh. Actually killing something on camera is a cheap trick, no matter how you feel about animals. Doesn’t take much talent to kill.

  3. Yeah, this movie really did set the bar for “extreme”…I’ve seen post-releases like A Serbian Film and it’s still child’s play compared to this. MDE is a mindf*ck of the highest order, and I have yet to see anything that comes close. Marian Dora may be a freak but he damn sure knows how to install a sense of unrelenting filth and dread into those who watch, and for that I have to give him credit.

  4. sorry, but i honestly couldnt follow your argument that is supposed to justify the animal killings in this movie. my english isnt perfect so if I got something wrong following your long review, plz excuse that.

    your argument seems to be: i am not allowed to protest against it because i feel provoked by it and this is exactly what the director wants (????). with such an argument one could justify any kind of illegal or rightfully disgusting acts on film (not just animal snuff but anything against any law). i could justify any bad deed by calling it art and stating that it is art exactly because it has provoked and that is what i was after.

    also: the idea that somebody might be rightfully provoked and that the director has indeed done something blatantly wrong is unjustly left out in such a way of argueing. if e.g. a movie depicts sado-masochists as potential serial killers by blurring or ommiting tons of proven facts about such tendencies in persons and a couple living in such a relationship would feel provovked by that, it exactly has to accept such a terrible film because the film is wrong and thereby provoking and that is what the director was after.

    directors and audiances should keep in mind that there is a difference between pushing boundaries and provoking by doing so (like political cinema often does), and between provoking by simply shooting stuff that is rightfully declared as wrong. in the latter case even an artistic merit (if indeed present) wouldnt justify anything: life is more important than art.

    i am aware that the term “rightfully” i have just used is subjective and not a real argument. having read Nietzsche, de Sade, la Metrie and the likes, I am very well aware that my “rightfully” has no value for some and isnt a logical justification of any kind. i am randomly setting normative boundaries here. still, animal snuff can be described as gruesome, unneccessary and disgusting and this description would not be a false or untrue one. and i dont see a point why an artist or any kind of person should engage in such acts and then be appreciated for it. either one should despise him or proclaim that one is equally bad.

    and considering the amount of movies depicting what is on display here (including numerous real scat porn productions out of Brazil etc, numerous art-house flics and italian movies depicting animals snuff and more or less faked scatophilia etc etc etc) there is nothing new here. the only thing that is surprising is that people still feel the need to push boundaries were they all have been pushed already when it comes to the depiction of sex and voilence. the only “unpushed” boundaries directly lead into real criminal activities.

    new unheard of thoughts are provoking, not old acts of cruelity. after the director´s first movie on cannibalism this one was a true let down.

  5. Thanks for this review. As a confidant of Marian Dora, I can assure you at 100% that the whole movie contains only one REAL animal killing (and this is the scene with the pig, where the team had the permission to film at an official butchering). Marian Dora is a true master in making killings (humans and/or animals) without CGI look so damn realistic, but if you don’t believe me, just consequently watch the whole cat scene over and over again, watch it in slow motion, watch it frame by frame, and then you’ll find that it’s nothing but very clever cuts that made you think that it is for real when you initially watched it. However, rioting starry-eyed idealists complaining about “animal snuff” might be one of the greatest achievements of the outstanding film making skills this enigmatic director has.

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