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Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:23 am
Controversial - yes, hard hitting - yes, vile subject matter - yes, most horrific movie I've ever seen - no, for me that was last years The Girl Next Door.
The seemingly nice normal family with the nice big house with the bat-cave sized high tech, steel clad, operating theatre equipped basement (Austria, France ... basements are in vogue) torture chamber - I would like to have seen some back story on the family to try to get my head around how/why they became involved in this and who this black-clad group led by what looked like Rosa Kleb in a turban were. Were they just religious fanatics?
The relentless kicking, punching and beating the crap out of Anna then skinning her alive was something that left me cold and sat in my seat with a look of disgust on my face, wondering what the hell kind of sick f****d up weirdness was going on in the Director's mind when he was shooting it.
I didnt really get the whole martyrdom thing (maybe as I'm not personally religious) and why this strange bunch of people (who all gathered at the house like it was some cocktail party or gallery opening) thought that by debasing a human being to the point where she lost all grip on reality and started "seeing things others didnt" ... maybe its just me but I thought that was called being delusional ... made her a martyr.
I cant say I found this film "important" or one that "had to be seen and made" - to be honest it really struck me as one of those movies that desperately try hard to be in your face and controversial.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:29 am
me and the small band of festers sitting around me all pretty much thought the same thing.It was basically torture porn with a religous overtone.Dont really think you can seperate this from hostel and its ilk.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:22 am
kaiju and DavieT, i respectfully disagree. I did find this a profound experience. Whether you like it or not it is a very serious piece of work and I can't see how you can compare it to crap like Hostel.
I thought this was very very close to Clive Barker's most hardcore work. Correct me if I'm wrong but Clive Barker was raised a Catholic like Martyrs' director. I think that is significant. I'm a protestant turned athiest myself and I wonder if having religious convictions (either current or former) affect your reaction to this film.
Very interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:57 am
MaxRenn - I also respect your view - its an extreme movie which will provoke an extreme range of reaction ... thereby acchieving its goal of being highly controversial.
I'm not religious now and never have been but know full well that some people will do some extreme, truly repulsive things and "justify" them in the name of religion - I dont need to see a woman (or any other human being regardless of sex or age ) savagely beaten ,abused and physically/mentally tortured to point that fact out. The skinning made me think immediately of Clive Barker and Hellraiser - not sure whether Barker was raised Catholic but think he's described as an atheist now.
Important is not the same thing as plain nasty but like you I am interested in what other viewers thought.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:41 am
I thought it was a disturbing, hard-hitting and very emotional film. As the credits began to roll, I remember breathing out an enormous sigh of relief.
I found it extremely hard to watch, not because of its gore but because of the subject matter...the fact that these nuts would go as far as to skin someone alive in order to prove the existence of something man is just not supposed to know really hit me hard.
Without doubt the most powerful film of the festival.
Oh and I dont care if he is on the forum but... 'Do you think this is an important film or just gory?' - There are no stupid questions just stupid people, no wait take that back, that was a bloody stupid question!
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:52 am
Martyrs,for me this was an incredible film with a real headf**k ending,and really left me quite in awe of its power,its easy to dismiss this as torture p**n,and pure gore trash,but the journey of the martyrs is a powerful one,the actors and actresess involved,were incredibly brave to take this film and deliver performances the likes of which we may never quite see again for some time.
There was a mixture of the fountain in there,and very much religious overtones in the final minutes.
i knew as soon as the science part underground was discovered this is more than a messed up family,in a year that has uncovered a series of serious child abuse cases across europe including jersey,its going to be hard for this film to get beyond that label,but its more than that,and that journey beyond death still lays a mystery.
Oh and the director said i had a cool T-shirt,friday the 13th
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:38 pm
Tedious and dressed up as something terribly important and challenging.
Many people dismissed Strangers as one-note. Although totally different films, the same can be said for Martyrs. Just grim. Throughout. No change of pace, nuance, tone and never once did it surprise or illuminate.
There seems to be an amount of macho beard stroking when it comes to films like this. The more bleak and depressing and violent (and foreign) the films are then the more highly regarded they seem to be.
I don't give a toss about the religious aspect - i think that's a red herring.
So what if some people were sick? Is this a sign of a noteworthy or challenging film?
Sorry, but it's much easier to do unremitting and grim than exciting, edge of the seat, surprising cinema.
Compare this with `Let the Right One in' and there is no comparison.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:13 pm
I'm inclined to agree with MaxRenn on this one, whether you enjoyed it or not is almost irrelevant.
At the very least it's a step above the Hostels of this world, it at least has a narrative and some good performances.
I think, as Max says, Barker is a great touchstone for this film. I've never been particularly religous but I did attend a convent school through secondary education and have an understanding of religous faith through my experiences there. Perhaps your faith or lack of affects your viewing of this film?
With regards to DavieT's comment, I didn't feel it was ever trying to be 'controversial', it was merely telling a story the only way the story could be told and that happened to include some very strong violence. Whereas Hostel takes pleasure in showing visceral nastiness (the Achilles heel scene and the girls eye being melted in particular) I never thought Martyrs was gratuitous in it's depiction.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:47 pm
The main body of the movie, running around in the house, was pretty good. The end sequence... meh. Not worth the hype, certainly.
crashd wrote:Whereas Hostel takes pleasure in showing visceral nastiness ... I never thought Martyrs was gratuitous in it's depiction.
...which is probably why it's less affecting. That, and the fact that Anna isn't some innocent... she's already seen and done some pretty messed-up shit in the first half.
Posted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:21 pm
I don't know if it was the 5 hours I killed in Central London waiting to see this film or the hype that accompanied it but either way it was the film I was really excited to see.
Let me start by saying that I thought this film was awful, complete garbage. I tried really very hard to like it but it was all hype and no content. The comparison to Hostel is not unfair in my opinion and although I think Hostel is a seriously bad movie I have to be honest that I thought this film was worse. Ok, Hostel has the gratuity (Martyrs isn't thin on the ground with it) but it's a silly film at the end of the day where as Martyrs is not (intentionally) and I see very little difference between the two in terms of quality of story or dialogue.
There was a paper thin plot, no character development and although trying desperately to be deep it failed to an extraodinary length. The shocking conclusion wasn't shocking in the slightest other than the fact that I failed to care who this group were or why they would be prepared to torture children for their gains.
I'm amazed that some people thought this film was good or are even giving it the benefit of the doubt. I know this all sounds very harsh but I was actually quite angry to have wasted my time and money on this. I'm not a weekend pass man, nor am I a horror film expert but I did catch both The Chaser and Let the Right One In which were both in my opinion pretty good movies (particularly The Chaser) but yet this film was sold out and had everyone on tender hooks.
You really can't compare this film which I would describe as the showpiece of 2008 to last years The Orphanage which had everything that Martyrs did not. Good luck to the film maker, I'm sure the hype (which he fed in his introduction) will be enough to make a few quid from this.
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:48 am
Altered States for the tortureporn generation.
I prefer this to Hostel because its raison d'etre (as they say in Belgium) was metaphysical rather than anti-establishment.
But then I prefer Severance to Hostel.
An interesting premise of abuse revenge mutates into philosophical hypothesis. And loses something in the process. A decent concept though and a good genre film, but not one I would recommend to anyone.
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:44 am
I thought this was a beautiful film, a truly excellent, disturbing and moving piece of work. I didn’t consider the film torture porn at all.
The main torture scenes in the last 30 minutes were carried out with a cold, clinical, detached efficiency which sets it apart from films like hostel, and it didn’t once revel in nastiness or excess violence just for the titillating sake of it. I found it a profoundly touching and sad film. Sure it had extreme violence and brutality, but it all served a purpose and made a point, to compare it to films like hostel is doing it a massive disservice.
This film will stay with me for a long time, much more so than any other film at the festival.
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:46 am
DavieT wrote:Controversial - yes, hard hitting - yes, vile subject matter - yes, most horrific movie I've ever seen - no, for me that was last years The Girl Next Door.
Have to completely agree with this, found Girl next door much more affecting to watch.
In Martyrs torture sequence found that as she gets continually beaten up in the same manner, it felt like we were being beaten over the head with a blunt instrument to make a point although there didn't seem to be a point.
Martyrs was an interesting movie and will divide opinion as I know some that really enjoyed it (although enjoy would be the wronmg word to use)
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:50 am
It was a thought-provoking film, and I don't for a minute think that the intention was simply to shock or be controversial.
However, the violence and intensity was so unrelenting that I just overloaded very early on and felt quite detached from it. The first few scenes had impact, but then it was all non-stop screaming and slashing. The imaginary dead girl was scary at first, then it was "oh, her
In the second half the torture scenes were horrible, but they went on and on to the point where I became... bored. There's no other word for it. So there you go, I got "desensitised to violence" in less than 90 minutes.
I did find the ending interesting and a little moving, but the film as a whole wasn't anywhere near as profound, disturbing or powerful as I expected.
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:05 pm
I'm amazed no one brought up the similarity of the second half of Martyrs to the middle portion of Alan Moore's V For Vendetta, wherein:
***SPOILERS for the comic book/film follow***
V exerts a sadistic stranglehold on Evy's mind and body during a spell in an underground cellblock and pretty much destroys her spirit in an effort to build it up again as a new, almost beatified soul.
Tack on a bit of visual inspiration from Dreyer's amazing Passion Of Joan Of Arc (the obvious template for both Evy's look in V For Vendetta and the Anna in Martyrs) and you get this picture.
I'm torn between thinking it an interesting stab at something different and unique and a fudged, rather pretentious and awkwardly paced piece of shock. The basic problem anyone will have with it, whether they liked or loathed it, is that Anna is so paper thin as a character (she's the secondary role to the barely more fleshed out Lucie for so much of the first half) it becomes a little difficult to truly endure her plight with her and become moved beyond the obvious affect of seeing a young woman being beaten senseless. It felt too detached to move beyond the immediate.
Which is of course where Dreyer and Moore's more sensitively drawn, exquisitely centred and ultimately genuinely profound and moving works excel.