Out now from Safecracker Pictures comes one of the, if not the most, controversial films of this generation, A Serbian Film.
Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic and co-written by him and Aleksandar Radivojevic, the premise of the film, from the outside is a simple one. Milos (played by Srdjan Todorovic) is a semi-retired porn star who is drawn back into the business by the mysterious Vukmir, on the bases that he signs a contract and does whatever is asked of him for the movie. In return for his participation, he and his family will never have to worry about money again and he can spend the rest of retirement in peace without his financial worries hanging over. Seems like a reasonable enough offer and the amount that Milos is offered is one that certainly intrigues him into signing the contract, although he does have some reservations when the filming finally starts.
Now to some people this may seem like your run of the mill horror and you know what to expect when you finally watch the film. You will be sorely mistaken. A Serbian Film is not a film you enter into lightly. It is one that will test your morals from the word go. It tested the BBFC to the point where it almost wasn’t released in the UK. It has been, or else this DVD would not be able to reviewed, but only after several parts had been severely cut to appease the censors. It takes you to the deepest parts of your soul and makes you question what you are actually willing to watch in the name of cinema. I know many people are a fan of the genre of “Shocking Cinema”, with films such as Martyrs and Irreversible having a huge fan base; this film however is a completely different entity.
This DVD has the option to view the movie with an introduction by the director and I highly recommend watching it before you view the movie. In it he puts forward the reasoning behind the movie and why they felt they had to present it in the way that they did. I am not trying to justify the actions of the producers of this film, but it is always interesting to see why film makers made the choices that they did and how it affected the finished product. He reasons that the film is a political comment on how the people of Serbia are treated by their government and how everyone nowadays is a prostitute in one way or another. Whether you agree with this is up to you, but it certainly makes you view the film in a different light other than just a horrifically shocking piece of cinema.
Another extra on this release is the inclusion of behind the scenes footage of the infamous baby scene. Now the actual scene isn’t included in the movie, because it was deemed to shocking to be included and cut from this version, but there is a slightly longer piece of footage running up to it compared to an earlier version that was released. The bonus feature of the making of this scene shows the creation of the baby and the application of the make up to make the scene work. Whilst to some this footage may seem pointless, I for one feel it was included to show people the banality of it all; and at the end of the day, it isn’t real. Once again, I am not jumping to the defence of the movie, I don’t actually think I could stomach watching watch happens, even though I know it isn’t real. But Spasojevic and co want people to know that they should not be so uptight about something that didn’t actually happen. By showing people what is behind the curtain of film making, maybe people will become more accepting of it.
I am in two minds about A Serbian Film. On the one hand it is one of the most harrowing and disturbing movies I have ever watched, but on the other it is a truly brave film that takes it a political idea to its most extreme point. It is a film that will be spoken about in hushed tones for a very long time and one that will never be truly accepted by the masses. For some it will be rite of passage, to say that they have watched it; whilst others will wash their hands of it before they have even watched it because of what they have heard about it. As with many films, it is completely down to personal preference; and mine for the film varies on a daily basis.