Before Christopher Nolan ever directed Memento, German auteur Jorg Buttgereit utilized the reverse chronological technique in his masterpiece Schramm. Unlike Memento, Schramm is not a film revered by cliché college film students. Instead, Schramm is a treat for those looking for artistically merited murder, sadomasochism, and sexual deviance. Not many directors are able to treat the subject in a way that Buttgereit has.
Many have criticized Schramm for its lack of murders and body count. I found this argument irrelevant as the film main focus is the day to day life of Schramm. We see the obsessions of this killer and how they build up to his actual killings. Schramm is obsessed with masturbation and penis mutilation. He is unable to participate in normal sexual acts so he prefers to satisfy himself after his victims are either dead or drugged.
Schramm captures a similar isolationist feel as Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. In both films the protagonist seems even more alone while in the company of others then by themselves. Their obsession with women are also very unsettling as they seem to have no clue on how to function with those of the opposite sex. Their sex comes out in their violence. Every kill is a sexual climax.
Both protagonists in the films also have a fear of sexual encounters. This becomes blatantly obvious in Schramm’s delusion of a vagina monster with teeth. He has a schizophrenic form of castration anxiety. In reality, Schramm is figuratively castrated in his inability to use his phallic in a pure way. Whether he is driving a nail through his foreskin or having sex with a blow-up doll, Schramm lacks a real sexual encounter.
Like Buttgereit’s other films, Schramm’s musical score perfectly compliments the film. When we see Schramm doing sit-ups, the intensity of the music allows us a peek into his twisted mind. In each dream sequence, beautiful music is played. Buttgereit is obviously not afraid to experiment with several different emotions.
Schramm is a film that combines dream sequences, flashbacks, and surrealism to create the ultimate collage of a serial killer’s mind. As the viewer, you are expected to join in the film as being part of the experience. Schramm shows you his world and you just have to watch. Some may have a hard time just doing that. In the end you may even feel enlightened.