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A Serbian Film (Srpski film) - Contrafilm Print E-mail
User Rating: / 112
Written by Ray Casta   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
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AKA: Srpski film

Directed by: Srdjan Spasojevic
Written by: Srdjan Spasojevic & Aleksandar Radivojevic
Produced by: Srdjan Spasojevic , Dragoljub Vojnov
Edited by: Darko Simic
Cinematography by: Nemanja Jovanov
Music by: Sky Wikluh
Cast: Srdjan Todorovic , Sergej Trifunovic , Jelena Gavrilovic , Katarina Zutic
Special Effects: Miroslav Lakobrija
Year: 2010
Country: Serbia
Language: Serbian
Color: Color
Runtime: 104 Minutes

Studio: Contrafilm

There is a key moment midway through A Serbian Film that encapsulates its intentions and rationalizes its existence.  The film's antagonist, a shady filmmaker Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) expresses a harsh outlook on life, stemming from the lasting wounds and turmoil which befell upon his country.  He speaks on survival, clinging onto life until one's eventual destruction and demise.  His tirade is one of a madman, yet he is driven and passionate.  He sounds as if he is patriotic and finally doing something good for his damaged country.  Vukmir insists the movie he is filming is not pornography.  It is "life", death, flesh and soul of a victim.  He passionately describes why he wants to make the project and what he needs to complete it: Victims.  He needs his victims to suffer, and he explains to his main star he will be one of the said victims -- a martyr for cinema and for his country.  This is A Serbian Film in a nutshell.  To be forced to sacrifice yourself and what/who you love for the country, which imprisons your body and soul.  The dialogue is a fine indicator for why it was conceived in the first place.  Like his madman antagonist, first-time filmmaker Srdjan Spasojevic intends for the soul-shattering violence and savage atrocities displayed on screen to mirror those of his war-torn country.  In turn, the director claims a victim: You, the viewer.  You are just a number on its list of many victims.  A Serbian Film cuts ever so deeply -- and it will leave a long jagged scar through your cerebral.  A scar you won't easily heal from.

Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) retired from a lengthy career in the sleazy pornography business.  He spends time with his family, his wife and son at a time of financial crisis.  As the movie opens, his young son discovers one of his father's porno films and plays it on TV.  He watches as his father has rough sex with two nude women in a pool.  Milos and his beautiful wife Maria walks in the room, and she immediately shuts it off.  Maria tells Milos she doesn't want his movies out in the open, and Milos replies that he was his son's age when he watched his first porn.  Struggling with a low income, Milos gets an offer from an old porn actress he used to work with, Layla.  She tells him of Vukmir who is intrigued by the gift Milos is blessed with.  He is known to maintain an erection without the aid of medicine.  Vukmir does not tell Milos much about the mysterious project of his, besides there's no script.  Maria urges him to sign the contract, which he does.  In dreams of putting his son through school with the money from Vukmir's movie, Milos signs the contract unbeknownst of the unimaginable horrors that await.  He signed a deal with the devil.  For the first forty minutes,
A Serbian Film sets itself up as a dark noirish thriller.  There is an air of mystery which surrounds the project and as the sceptical Milos wanders the set, we begin to wonder when the horror will begin, and what exactly will happen.  When the true horror of the film begins, we are much like Milos: We don't know what we've gotten ourselves into and by this point, it is too late to back out.

The "hype" surrounding
A Serbian Film will unfortunately attract an audience who aren't necessarily looking for the subtlety.  Many gorehounds and horror junkies will definitely get their fix -- hopefully, the overall point of the film will not be lost in the mix.  Parts exploitation/horror, parts art film, there are significant elements which make A Serbian Film more than your average exploitation piece: It's an allegory.  The movie portrays violence at its most barbaric, but Srdjan Spasojevic absolutely needed to go to the most extreme lengths in order to drive the subtext home.  Sex and death are fascinating parallels.  Pornography and violence are striking contrasts for Serbia completely fucking over its residents through the last twenty years of conflict.  Death forces the sex drive, as it shows the source of pleasure (the penis) becoming a tool for destruction.  Vukmir is chiefly representative of the struggle Europeans go through financially to get their visions put to screen.  In his case, his producers express a need for victims.  The victims need to come to an epiphany acknowledging themselves as a victim and why they were victimized.  Sex is used against the victims in the movie, and it goes through the motions of birth, life, and death.  Vukmir appears to be in charge yet everything comes at a price in his culture.  Therefore, someone is in charge of him.  Milos and Vukmir represent two different examples of citizens in political turmoil: One, the director of the financially-backed snuff film, is allowed by the hierarchy to gain power back through his art.  Milos is the one manipulated with the empty promise of wealth and riches.  Both are pawns, and they are being used by their government.

In Salo, Pier Paolo Pasolini used the fascism in Italy as a catalyst and he shows the grip and control it has on its youth.  In A Serbian Film, the grisly aftermath of the genocide and political fallout pits a power struggle between the human desire to live and survive depicting humanity at its worst.  The screenplay by Aleksander Radivojevic and director Srdjan Spasojevic records a character wandering through a Lynchian nightmare.  Milos is kind of like Jeffrey after Frank Booth drags him into the dark underbelly of suburbia.  He is Bill Hartford on a sexual odyssey through the streets of New York City.  He is Alex in the Ludovico facility forced to viddy footage of Nazi Germany set Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  Played with a raw, harrowing intensity, Srdjan Todorovic is nearly flawless in the role of Milos.  He has strong material to work with yet he looks the part and acts as if his life depends on it with every frightening reaction, facial expression and accentuated cry of despair.  There is a moment where he's forced to do the unthinkable.  His reaction feels real.  He plays a character who is turned absolutely insane.  The movie shows how he is manipulated, and turned into a chess piece by the powers that be.  They move Milos around their personal chess board until they have him stuck in a check mate, defeated and wiped out.

Shot with Red One, A Serbian Film is a tour de force of sound and image.  You have the most vile images in front of your eyes, yet in the same frame, the imaginative camerawork radiates a visually stunning aura.  The cinematography is sophisticated in the way it showcases beauty and rich texture against grue and ugliness.  In this respect, the movie's Red One work is similar to the striking 35mm in Nick Palumbo's controversial Murder-Set-Pieces.  The droning score provided by Sky Wikluh conveys terror magnificently.  There is a grim scene showing a mother holding her child bloody and traumatized, and the monophonic chords warp our minds as the haunting images genuinely force the viewer to think about what they are witnessing in front of them.  It's during these fragile, quietly powerful moments where the movie's nihilism comes to full circle.  With no CGI necessary, the special effects by Miroslav Lakobrija are impressive and Savini-esque on occasion.  However, there is something beyond its impressive effects work: the emotional intensity.  While its on-screen violence may be overhyped to be more shocking than it is, the irreparable effects of sexual assault are more along the lines of how the movie will fuck up its viewers psychologically and assault them visually.  Sound and visuals complete this story of life, sex and death mixing with art.

One of the most brilliant aspects of
A Serbian Film is during its last half when Spasojevic reveals the horrific parts of the climax primarily on the lens of a digital camera.  He is watching events he cannot remember.  The climax is revealed through the raw footage and foggy, scattered bits of Milos' memory.  The film, in a way, puts the viewer at an arms-length because it shows events which already transpired and these sequences are punctuated flashbacks.  It is unique, but it works.  There is a lengthy sequence in this stretch featuring unspeakable acts of rape and murder which easily ranks among the most unsettling moments of depravity and perversion ever put to celluloid.  In defending the violence and atrocities depicted in his film, Spasojevic says: "You have to feel the violence to know what it's about".  In conclusion we not only know what the violence is about, but we "feel" it as well.  Like the country manipulated by its own government, we feel their ultimate control and power over us in a vice grip clench.  Just a harmless, ordinary image of a loving family laying together in bed will never be the same again.  It is an extremely powerful, tragic punch line to a story of a struggling patriarch who would do anything to provide for his family.  This is where the film captures the "violation to end all violations", morphing a deceptively simple shot of a father, and his wife and child laying in bed into a sick joke: a systematic destruction of the family unit -- before and after death.

One of the most devastatingly horrifying films you're ever likely to witness,
A Serbian Film is transcendent in its monstrous depravity and pitch-black hopelessness.  You are never given clemency by the filmmakers.  There is no safe passage.  Not unlike the feeling of dread from Pascal Laugier's Martyrs, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  Just more darkness.  It feels as if we fell into an abyss.  And if a film was ever made with heart, A Serbian Film was -- yet its heart is filled with anger and hatred.  As certain demographics see the film simply for hardcore shocks and perversions, they consequently will miss its overall importance.  Provocative and transgressive, A Serbian Film is a highly significant piece of work.  Even though it has a heart of darkness, this film was made for a reason.  The filmmakers created the film (which is currently banned in its own country) from their blood, sweat and tears.

Whether you love it or hate it, Srdjan Spasojevic has something to say with
A Serbian Film.  I dare you to see it.



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Rod Sims     | |2010-09-02 17:54:27
Great review of probably the most amazing and disturbing film I have seen since
MARTRYS. A work of Art, that stays with you like ANTICHRIST or of course
MARTYRS. Not to be missed, although you may wish you had never seen it.
Chris Mayo     |SAdministrator |2010-09-02 18:10:21
I agree Rod, not since Martyrs has a film affected me so much. Antichrist is an
intense film as well.

Thanks for your comments.
Marci  - Why Martyrs?   | |2013-03-20 05:17:25
I may be alone on this, but I really hated the ending of Martyrs, and felt like
it wrecked the movie as a whole. It was honestly not all that disturbing or
affecting to me, but the first 2/3 of the movie had a wonderful set-up, and was
really engaging. I liked the psychological aspects, the doubt that it
introduced. I was really into it, but then the end felt like they took
everything I was enjoying about the story and threw it out the window in favor
of being non-sensically avant-garde... (I'm trying not to be specific with plot
to avoid spoilers) I watched it on youtube, and the ending made so little sense
that I was convinced there had to be another video. I don't understand... The
violence could, I suppose, shock people, but I can't imagine anything of that
caliber really "getting to" hardcore horror fans. Can you please explain
why it affected you so much?
ElainaBraun   | |2010-09-15 01:12:46
Can somebody PLEASE tell me where I can find this film and view it?! Thanks!
alana   | |2016-08-26 12:44:01
if you are talking about a Serbian film and or martyrs go on
there are a lot of ads but its free to watch. in mostly good quality
manda   | |2010-10-23 19:51:00
where can i download or listen to the songs that are in the movie? everywhere is
just the main song "pazi sta radis" and no other music.. sky wikluh is
the artist
Chris Mayo  - RE:     |SAdministrator |2010-11-01 12:11:13
The song isn't available on iTunes yet, but you can listen to it on
Aaron  - WTF?!?!     | |2010-11-01 02:46:54
the director of this movies was one sick fucked up idividual!!! every1 that made
this movie should be fucking murdered!!! before that they should get the same
shit done to them! wtf were they thinking? stupid sick bastereds!
Rod Sims   | |2010-11-01 14:08:33
sheesh, Aaron it's only a movie and you want to murder them? It's a work of
art, and if you can't see it for what it is, then that's your problem.
Manuel Berbin  - In my life     | |2010-11-05 23:49:43
had I seen so much depravity in only one film, you can't tell; if the
director is a genius, or just a really sick man.

I thought Tarantino's
Hostal was rough enough for pretty much all the movies I had seen, but
this one takes the full palm.

żArt?, who knows? what would be the
definition of art is this is art? I don't know is it's
entertatinmet either. I just don't know what it is.

The only thing
i'm sure of, if that this movie takes that side of the life that you know
that exists, but choose to ignore, and rubs it in your face so
hard that you puke becuase of the stench.

You'll not be able to set
your eyes apart from it, the way the story is being told keeps you guessing
what the hell is going to happen next; and shocks you just in the
right moments, you'll place your hands in your mouth so many times, that
you'll be embarassed of call...
Bleak  - cringe   | |2010-11-27 07:39:45
I'm sure the movie can't be as shocking and painful as this review?


Sorry mate, but jeez. just terrible.
Jimi  - Can't wait for the sequel !!!   | |2010-12-14 05:57:55
Can't find anything in this movie. No point, no meaning, no art. If the art of
horror, the representation of the dark side fell to this than I'll give up on it
for the rest of my life.
To make light out of light is easy, but to take peace
of the darkness and make it "light darkness" is the hardest thing in the
world. Srdjan just took the darkness and put it on celluloid, something that can
be easily found on the footage of many terrorist organizations, tribes
conflicts, gang wars, etc.
And for all of u giving thumbs up on this
"thing", u can all just take a walk.
Ray Casta  - Severed Cinema   | |2010-12-21 22:17:20
Thanks for your input.

I'd love to see some of your reviews, if any. You
went out of your way to comment on my writing. So many people have negative
things to say, but never anything constructive. You should try a different
approach, and many people will take your seriously. I sure don't because you
said the writing was awful, which it wasn't.

If it was, I wouldn't have
submitted it and Chris surely would have told me.
Chris Mayo     |SAdministrator |2010-12-30 23:10:48
Ray, it's a good thing mommy is paying for the internet so this clown can have
some fun on my comment forms.

Whether folks share the same opinion on the
film, there is no mistaking the top-notch caliber of Ray's review.
Chris Mayo  - RE: cringe     |SAdministrator |2010-12-30 23:05:54
What a wonderful and insightful comment, "guy who hides behind the anonymity
of a feeble internet moniker." I'm sure you're writing shines on other
website's comment forms that you troll, when leaving insignificant comments. If
only Severed Cinema could be graced with more of your insight and fortitude.
Jason  - good movie   | |2011-01-02 14:28:08
A very powerful movie. Tops all of my old favorite sick films. Not exactly art
imo, but it was a fine job. Everyone who made this movie should be givin a heart
shaped lollypop. 10/10.
kennen   | |2011-01-02 19:55:09
The movie was about the experience of the victim, and I def felt like one
watching it.
DonGrif   | |2011-06-15 21:26:41
I have seen the movie and I really don't think it's all that good. I didn't find
it disturbing to watch. I think maybe there are too much hype about the movie.
Just like The Human Centipede. That movie relly sucked.

I'd give A Serbian Film
3/5. It's ok but not great.
Manuel berbín     | |2011-06-17 02:36:32
Agree in some point, but you can't compare the human centipede with this one,
this has a better rithim and timing in history telling.
liambutton95  - Thought-provoking   | |2012-06-04 09:27:24
This film for me was one of a different caliber. Reading the review and the
thought's you had on the movie was fascinating. Many of the small scenes in
which you had analysed and deciphered were very interesting to read. Fantastic

A Serbian Film 7/10
HiImZombie   | |2012-12-14 19:24:47
Damn...I made the mistake of watching this alone, in the dark with headphones
on...I didnt sleep right that night. I told a few friends about what I went thru
to see the whole movie...all 104 mins of it. I was looked at weird from my few
buddies who saw it...when they told me it wasnt that bad, I asked if they saw
the uncut version...they said the counter stopped around 98 mins...after they
saw the WHOLE damn thing, they thought I was sick for sitting thru it again...
Eaaaaar   | |2014-09-07 14:24:28
Very nice post.
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