Švankmajer: Lunacy

“Ladies and Gentlemen, what you are about to see is a
horror film, with all the degeneracy peculiar to that
job. It is not a work of art. Today, art is all but
dead anyway. In its place is a kind of trailer for the
reflection of the face of narcissism.

Our film may be regarded as an infantile tribute
to Edgar Allan Poe, from whom I’ve borrowed a number
of motifs, and to the Marquis de Sade, to whom the
film owes it blasphemy and its subversiveness.
The subject of the film is essentially an
ideological debate – about how to run a lunatic
asylum. Basically, there are two ways of managing such
an institution, each equally extreme.
One encourages absolute freedom. The other, the
old-fashioned, world tried method consists of control
and punishment. But there is also a third one, that
combines the very worst aspects of the other two.
And that is the madhouse which we live in today.”

And so begins Lunacy.

[no subs]

Now i can’t say i liked this one very much. I’d seen it before in a downloaded then slept through it sort of way and normally anything involving Sade can hold my interest, but Quills is a much better examination of him. Not that Svank was trying to do anything similar to that here. I find it hard to see what he was doing to be honest, whereas normally i can kind of “get it” intuitively.

The interludes with animated meat were disgusting.

The protagonist annoyed me because he lacked agency and worse than that he failed to rescue the woman he clearly fancied whenshe tried to escape. What sort of person is that? Who sees someone terrified and at risk of death and doesn’t intervene? But yeah it’s just a movie and it doesn’t need to make sense.

Svank i guess does a good job of creating a very unhinged feel, perhaps this why i don’t like it. You can taste the madness in the asylum.  I think he’s just exploring things and perhaps goes too far. What is too far he might counter. Well… i dunno what or where the limit is, but we know it becuase this goes over it, let’s put it like that. If as Svank suggests the film is an ideological debate about how to run an asylum, it’s not a debate I enjoyed.

To try again to put my finger on why exactly i didn’t like this, I find Sade fascinating as a figure who refused to compromise on his beliefs, which certainly led to some reprehensible acts but there is on a meta-level here a question about freedom and the evils that freedom can create. Svank approaches these questions in the film, but I don’t like the depiction or the lack of coherence.

Amazing acting all round though!



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