Apr 24, 2010

Flesh & Blood

It would have probably sucked living during the Middle Ages because of the plague and all, but few things suck worse than Hollywood’s blasphemous portrayals of those ghastly times. It would be very hard for me to come up with a “Top Five” list for “Best Films set during the Middle Ages” because I doubt that I even enjoy five films set during that death-filled era. Of course, when I found out that Dutch auteur Paul Verhoeven directed a blood-soaked film Flesh & Blood set during the Middle Ages, I felt compelled to see the cinematic adventure. After all, if there is a director that can take films with very stupid premises and make a masterpiece out of them (e.g. Robocop), Paul Verhoeven is the guy to get the cinematically ambitious job done right. Flesh & Blood is the film Verhoeven directed before completely surrendering himself to Hollywood with the Sci-fi classic Robocop, a film that virtually has nothing in common with his earlier Dutch Art House works, but deserves recognition in it's own right.

With Flesh & Blood Paul Verhoeven makes no pathetic attempts to romanticize the Middle Ages. The film features brutal rapes, castrated corpses hanging from trees, stillborn babies being born by virtual sex-slave mothers, and a very murderous form of Christianity. Even noblemen are at the constant threat of being murdered by ambitious barbarians looking to become Noblemen as well. Flesh & Blood follows a group of Mercenaries led by a devilishly Heroic man named Martin (played brilliantly by Rutger Hauer) and his rape victim/lover Agnes, a young Heiress who knows what she wants and how to get it. A young Italian ruler Steven Arnolfini , who is more interested in Science and inventions than his fiancé Agnes, realizes he must rescue her after the two would-be lovers share a mandrake. The driving plot of Flesh & Blood is finding out who will end up with Agnes: The middle-aged Barbarian Mercenary Martin who wishes he was a Nobleman or a Twenty-something year old Nobleman inventor Steven. Agnes may look like a pasty preteen while in the nude, but in her own Middle Age world she acts as a goddess.

Flesh & Blood brings up some interesting ideas about class differences even if the film was set during the Middle Ages. The mercenaries want nothing more but to live the good life and become Noblemen. After all, gang raping children and castrating enemies can get quite banal after sometime and being the master of a castle has a certain classiness to it. After capturing a castle from some unfortunate Nobles with the plague, the Mercenaries start living the good life. They have plenty of food to eat and servants to serve them, but they look quite comic in their attempts at enjoying the Noble life. Heiress Agnes tries to show her Rapist Lover Martin how to eat with a fork which has comic results. Agnes seems to very much enjoy her lower-classed lover’s pathetic attempts at becoming something he’s not. Maybe Karl Marx wasn’t the only effeminate mind conspiring for class warfare.

Flesh & Blood may be no Turkish Delight, but it will certainly fulfill ones appetite for Middle Age raping, pillaging, murdering, and everything else historically that is so bloody nice. The film does not solely glamorize or romanticize the Middle Ages as a time when people spoke more eloquently and dressed nicer than they do nowadays like most Hollywood films set during that era. Instead, Flesh & Blood presents a world where death is around every corner, whether or not one is rich or poor. Interestingly enough, Flesh & Blood also presents a world where there was more passion and incentive for one to live life to their fullest. Yeah, maybe people believed that wooden statues of St. Martin of Tours were guiding them on a spiritual tour, but that is much more admirable than hoping a criminal Mulatto Messiah will deliver the world from Evil and bring about universal world peace. How weak.

-Ty E

1 comment:

peregrine fforbes-hamilton said...

"Agnes may look like a pasty preteen while in the nude", now i`ve got to see this movie.