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September 15, 2015

Angst

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Gerald Kargl - 1983
Cult Epic BD Region A

Maybe time has made Gerald Kargl's only feature film seem less transgressive than it seemed to be back in 1983. Kargl has gone on record as saying that if he had to do it over again, the violence in Angst would not be as graphic. I'm hardly a gore-hound, I don't look for films that deliberately try to shock an audience, but if something comes my way for review purposes, I'll do my best to give that film a fair shake. All things considered, I would have to say that those who banned or called to ban Angst over-reacted. Maybe because the film is based on true events, made by a young filmmaker, Angst was considered more extreme than the slew of cannibal and zombie movies also playing in theaters at the time.

Setting aside that Angst, German for fear, was inspired primarily by a then recent story of an Austrian serial killer, and that the viewer witnesses the murder of three victims, what Angst is really about is the sense of control. None of the characters are named, but for the sake of convenience, the killer has been referred to as K. Released from prison after ten years, and two murders, K's immediate thought is how to kill again. He has scenarios in his mind. What plays out is completely different, as the havoc of real life gets in the way.

The film is held together by Erwin Leder as K. There is voice over narration revealing his state of mind during the twenty-four hours or so that the story takes place. Observing people as possible prey, Leder looks positively feral. When the unexpected upends his plans, Leder's eyes convey total panic.

The cinematography provides a visual counterpoint to the narrative. Cinematographer Zbigniew has extended traveling crane shots with the camera looking over K almost like a god's eye view. Even the short bursts of K running through a forest have the illusion of appearing like a continuous shot. There are also floor level shots as well. We see extreme close-ups of eyes, lips, sweat and saliva. It should be no surprise that Kargl went on to make commercials for a living, in part because of the financial beating he took on making Angst, but also because this film demonstrated that, whatever one thought of the story and characters, Kargl's craftsmanship is unquestionable.

Most of the time, I prefer to let the film speak for itself. For those interested, the blu-ray comes with a forty page booklet about the making of Angst, and interviews with some of the talent, as well as information taken from newspaper articles on Werner Kniesek, the real life inspiration for the film. Bonuses include an introduction by admirer Gaspar Noe, and interviews with star Erwin Leder, as well as Kargl and Rybczynski. If that wasn't generous enough, there is also a commentary track by Kargl.

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Posted by peter at September 15, 2015 03:04 PM