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April 14, 2016



Jörg Buttgereit - 1993
Cult Epics BD Region A

The chances are that if the films by Jorg Buttgereit were nothing more than the sum of their many body parts, I wouldn't bother writing about any of his work. Taking away some of the more horrific moments in Schramm, one can observe a very careful use of color and composition. The opening sequence is composed of abstract use of color, mostly blue, initially out of focus images that eventually are revealed to be the legs of runners on a track. There are some later scenes of the serial killer, Lothar Schramm, running in a race in Berlin, as well as running alone. If Schramm's running has any kind of symbolic meaning, it's not indicated in any way other than that at one point, he hurts his leg, and requires a leg brace. No longer running, Schramm's life appears reduced to staying within his dumpy apartment.

The film roughly follows the memories and nightmares of Lothar Schramm in the days leading up to his accidental death. Save for occasional conversations with the hooker next door, Schramm's life is one of isolation. The injury to his leg is the prelude to his body seeming to rebel against him. Schramm imagines himself with his leg suddenly amputated. To say he may be sexually uncomfortable with himself is putting it in the most polite terms as in one scene Schramm punishes himself in a way that will make most viewers wince. It's no surprise that Schramm masturbates not with an inflatable doll, but with a torso, essentially a female reduced to breasts and a vagina.

Some of the queasiness might be induced by the moments of body horror may be softened by the sometimes very funny "Making of . . . " supplement, featuring Buttgereit, producer-cinematographer Manfred Jelinski, and cast and crew members. Revealed are how some of the very graphic special effects were created, including prosthetic foreskin, as well as hand made rigging for some dazzling overhead cinematography. While veteran Buttgereit star Monika M. cheerfully admits to being up appearing in future productions, it does appear that playing the title character as taken a toll on Florian Koerner von Gustorf. I would assume that von Gustorf has found greater comfort behind the scenes, notably for producing several films by Christian Petzold.

While no hyperbole exists on the packaging, one could safely call this the "Ultimate Edition". In addition to an introduction by Buttgereit, the blu-ray comes with two commentary tracks, one by Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen, the other by stars von Gustorf and Monika M. Additionally, there are three early short films by Jorg Buttgereit. Horror Heaven, dedicated to Boris Karloff, includes no-budget pastiches of The Mummy and Frankenstein, while in Bloody Excess in the Leader's Bunker, Hitler's plans for a new Reich are literally ripped apart. Made up of photographs and some home movies, My Father presents a brief portrait of Jorg Buttgereit's father, suggesting that some of the more exploitive elements of Buttgereit's film have some very personal roots.

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Posted by peter at April 14, 2016 06:49 AM