Film Reviews and political correctness have joined hands for a 2010 “snuff” production by the name of “A Serbian Film”, directed by Srdjan Spasojevic.
It’s pretty interesting how just about every analysis of this movie follows the same pattern: Firstly, an elaboration of its violence (and it IS violent with its protagonist raping his own kid, a dead body and just about everyone he meets). Secondly, a well-developed mention of the scandalous NC-17 rating, as if no other film in the history of mankind ever received such censorship. And lastly comes the beloved topic of aesthetic inspiration of Spasojevic, which ranges from Brian de Palma to The Human Centipede. Impressive.
One may not want to admit it, but violence has indeed lost much of its subversive power. Long gone are the days were people, unexposed to gore, shook in awe before the film that even remotely depicted such taboos. Especially with websites like ogrish.tv roaming free in cyberspace, which put forth over and over again everything from terrorist acts to execution and suicide, “snuff” is no longer mysterious or innovative. So if A Serbian Film is visually outdated, what is the problem?
In a very “by the way” fashion, did political implications get treated, interestingly enough, especially if you consider the title. The use of the word “Serbian” has mislead many viewers and critics (especially Serbians among them such as Dragan Bjelogrlić. Surprise, surprise) into thinking that the movie is either plain stupid or plain cathartic in its allusion, or lack of it thereof, to Serbian nationalism. After all, every country with a nationalist past, has to, at a given point in time, get it out of its system and this is, to many reviewers and viewers, what the film is trying to do, in its own special way. Only it ain’t so.
The protagonist at the center of these very intimate crimes of necrophilia and pedophilia, played by Srdjan Todorovic, is constantly being ordered, drugged, coerced, forced and threatened by a mad director behind the camera filming the snuff movie in the making. Through this reflexivity, the director implicitly refers to ethnic cleansing and the government’s implication in it. As you may have expected it, his own opinion about his work is not nearly this complex, he talks about how everyone in Europe has lost their feelings. So he made a snuff film to show that he still had some ?? No!
The issue which is getting repeatedly left out here is that Spasojevic is NOT representing a bygone era in the history of Serbia, the way let’s say “Downfall” (2004) represents WWII, but one which unfortunately is still part of the country’s ideological and non-cathartic discourse. This is where a nice reading of the evening news is in order.
The fact that in 2011, murderer Slavisa Buric, killed in 1993 was commemorated as a national hero, while he is responsible for mass rapes and the notorious Srebrenica massacre says a lot. Also, flags depicting Ratko Mladic (huge Serbian war criminal currently on trial in The Hague charged with the Bosnian Genocide ) during a commemoration ceremony for Bosnian Serb soldiers killed in the Bosnian War of 1992-1995 right when Bosnia morns its 700 000 citizens killed in the ethnic cleansing, on the hands of people like Mladic should make you wonder about “A Serbian Film”.
The J-word the title refers to is clearly “JUSTIFICATION” and the scenario is the obvious “the government made me do it” just as the protagonist was forced by the director to commit the depicted crimes. There is no catharsis to consider, precisely because catharsis is not possible when the country is still knee-deep in ideology and demonstrating it during memorials.
So, A Serbian Film does NOT refer to Serbian nationalism, there is NO reference here or anything of the sort, only justification of what this nationalism apparently made people do. And there’s nothing more disgusting than one of the biggest blemishes in the history of crimes against humanity, which is the ethnic cleansing, than those who try to redeem themselves from its responsibility.
To put it in even clearer terms: A guy tries to justify the mass murder of 700 000 people and what the public is upset about is that his movie looks very snuff-ish ? Really ??
Written by Hanine H aka Kinofrau