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Topic: "Lunacy" - a truly bizarre movie
Message: Posted by: JonWhite (Jun 4, 2007 09:36AM)
Well I normally lurk around in the darkness having little to add to the arcane wisdom here, but thought I'd briefly step out of the shadows to recommend a film I saw yesterday which I think fellow twisted souls might enjoy:

"Lunacy" by the surrealist Czech animator Jan Svankmajer.

Based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe ("The Premature Burial" and "The System of Dr. Tarr...") and the Marquis de Sade it combines live action with stop-frame animation (no CGI here) to create a wonderfully dark, gothic tale of madness and the unconscious forces that govern all...

The basic plot outline follows our mentally troubled "hero" Jean Berlot, who falls under the tutelage of a mysterious and cackling mad Marquis. Once in his charge, young Jean finds that his host is not quite the honest Christian he had thought but rather the leader of late-night rituals involving chained young maidens, bare breasted nuns and lustily eaten crucifix shaped chocolate cake! When Jean protests at the Marquis' blasphemous proceedings, the noblemen undertakes to show his charge the error of his pious ways. He gives thoughtful, forceful arguement and hands on demonstrations, leading to an offer for Jean's troubles to be cured at the local lunatic asylum where "purgative" therapy exorcises inner demons through total license and licentiousness. Here, the lunatics do indeed run the asylum, with body and senses loosed of all rational restraints! Until a ruthless, authoritarian order is restored...

Interspersing and as counterpoint to the dramatic live action there's a wealth of stop-motion vignettes, mostly of animated severed animal limbs and lumps of raw meat in gloriously intimate close-up - respiring hangar steaks; dislodged, yet curious eyeballs (couldn't help but think of Doug); slithering brains; inchworming cows' tongues. The lumps of meat fill cracks in the masonry or the innards of a clock, running wild and even copulating!

It's kind of hard to do this movie justice in words. Although it deals with some seriously dark and complex issues it never becomes turgid or dull, and has some wickedly comic moments. It's bold, extreme, challenging, aggressive, hilarious and repellant all at once! If you've seen any of Svankmajer's other strange works you probably have an idea of what to expect, but for me this is without doubt his most accomplished. If you haven't seen any of his films, you really are missing out.

Being what I really hate to describe as an "art-house" movie, it's hard to find a venue showing it (it's only on at one cinema here in London) but it really is worth the effort.

If ever a movie could be called bizarre, this is it! Superb!
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Jun 4, 2007 09:42AM)
That sounds fantastic, thank you!

Since you like that movie, check out Jan Svankmajer's Faust.

Message: Posted by: JonWhite (Jun 4, 2007 09:47AM)
Hi Tony.

Faust is one of the few of his films I've not yet seen. It's showing here later this month though and I'm seriously looking forward to it!

Message: Posted by: Sleeveless (Jun 4, 2007 02:00PM)
Thanks for the review. I, too, am a Svankmajer fan. I'll be keeping my eyes open for this one.