Mar 3, 2008

Orozco el Embalsamador

Orozco The Embalmer is a film unlike no other. Do not get this one confused with a mondo film. On the outer shell, It is a bizarre shockumentary that features grotesque embalming, foul treatment of the dead, and a fucked environment, but at its core, it is a commentary on many things, including both spectrum's of life and death. The genre of shockumentary is plagued with generic grindcore based outings of simulated and non-simulated death footage. The result is wholly shallow and unapologetic.

The guideline of the film is following the legendary Orozco. He is perhaps the worlds greatest embalmer who resides in Colombia. Each day he wakes up and embalms anywhere from 5 to 10 corpses a day, leaving him at a number over 50,000 that he has embalmed throughout his life. The very parallel idea of being able to sleep peacefully with the blood of thousands on your hands perplexes me. Orozco is a man of legend.

Tsurisaki Kiyotaka is a reporter turned corpse photographer who gets his kicks by photographing the dead and compiling it into films that mainly exploit the fear of death. See his film Junk Films for a collection of shorts. The original plan was to just document a short on him but the society claimed otherwise. The area in which he documents is of the worst social order. People get murdered in the streets in front of the innocent eyes of children. No taboo is left intact throughout this film. Babies are mishandled and disturbing samba music just ups the mood to a level of extreme unfelt in modern documentaries. The reason for Kiyotaka's prolonged stay was due to the fact that Orozco could mourn everyday of his life. Such an intimate connection between man and death, perhaps the most personal ever documented.

To this degree, it seems to contradict itself. Orozco violently tugs on his victim’s obese flesh, laughing at dead children, posing with them, and manages to not have the slightest expression change. Orozco the Embalmer can be considered a vast exercise in anti-art. The violence is graphic and in your face. You will not leave this experience without being marked. This film does something that none other has; made me fear death in it’s entirety.

I never really pondered the effects of death. The nothingness. What does it do? These thoughts have sent me into mild panic attacks, and to think all this because of a documentary? Does death really boil down to being assaulted by a disgustingly over-age Colombian? Orozco The Embalmer is a gripping documentary capturing the horrid quality of life that goes on, and what we should really fear about death.


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