Apr 9, 2011

Defenceless: A Blood Symphony

Usually, I refrain from watching any horror film that was created via digital video. In my less than humble opinion, digital video has unfortunately given a voice to people who have nothing to say. In the past, filmmaking was a labor extensive procedure even in regard to low-budget filmmaking, thus precluding less serious individuals from attempting to make films. Of course, there are obviously positive aspects to digital video, as some genuine artists have successfully created fantastic works out of the seemingly schlocky format. For instance, Russian auteur Andrey Iskanov has already created an admirable body of innovative work during his relatively short filmmaking career, taking digital video into dark realms that I would have never imagined possible considering the home-video-like aesthetic generally associated with the format. Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Mark Savage's Defenceless: A Blood Symphony (2004) - a delectable digital video work that successfully combines macabre moments of vengeance inspired castration and blissfully serene family beach scenes. As advertised in the title, Defenceless is indeed a bloody symphony - featuring no dialogue, but instead - a strictly classical music based soundtrack that highlights every memorable movement made by the characters in the film. In fact, it seems like the film's female protagonist is conducting the cinematic symphony as she gracefully, yet violently waves a knife at her former tormentors.

Like I Spit on Your Grave (1978) and Thriller - A Cruel Picture (1973) before it, Defenceless: A Blood Symphony is a revenge film about a broken, bruised, and ultimately brutalized (yet beautiful) woman who takes warranted vengeance against a trio of men that had previously sadistically ravaged her - unflinchingly killing them off one-by-one during the final act of this extravagant exercise in cinematic violence. Unlike most female protagonists in revenge films before it, the luscious lady that stars in Defenceless: A Blood Symphony brings a certain authenticity and realism to the her role that is quite rare for such a work. In fact, "the woman" (played by the beautiful and talented novice actress Susanne Hausschmid) resembles a barbaric Viking broad expressing blood-lust during an unfulfilling and ultimately unfruitful mating season. Defenceless: A Blood Symphony is a film that brings poetry to murderous scenarios that are seemingly unpoetical - no small feat successfully accomplished by Aussie auteur Mark Savage. Indeed, Mr. Savage was blessed with a fitting surname - as Defenceless: A Blood Symphony portrays humans at their most depraved - where the distinctly human characteristic of rationality is obsolete. The classical musical contained throughout Defenceless: A Blood Symphony brings a certain irony to the film that is comparable to Stanley Kubrick's use of Ludwig Van Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange. Despite the fact that Europe gave the world the most complicated musical compositions and the greatest genius composers; the same continent also gave the world its most deadly wars. In Defenceless: A Blood Symphony, the most culturally refined aspects of European culture are met with the most destructively archaic. For this reason - like the films of Jörg Buttgereit - Defenceless: A Blood Symphony will most likely offend pretentious Art House film fans and bore braindead gorehounds - as it is an ambitious work taking influence from both high-class cinema and the most violent of exploitation flicks.

After having read Mark Savage's excellent cinema-obsessed blog (Phantom of Pulp) over the years and finally seeing his film Defenceless: A Blood Symphony, it is apparent to me that he is a filmmaker's filmmaker and an eclectic cinephile (in the truest sense of the word). In my opinion, cinema is primarily a visual art as proven by the still powerful (yet nearly a century old) silent works of F.W. Murnau and Carl Th. Dreyer. Thus, despite lacking dialogue, Defenceless: A Blood Symphony  is a truly cinematic (albeit, in the digital video format) work that never wallows in banality nor languishes in repetitive gore. On top of featuring impeccable camerawork and top notch direction, every second of Defenceless: A Blood Symphony is perfectly accentuated by the film's classical music score.  Unfortunately, you won't likely find Defenceless: A Blood Symphony in the horror section of your local video store nor playing at an independent movie theater in the big city, for the film is only appealing to an elite type of cinephile; the oh-so rare cine-maniac - who likes to indulge in an almost nonexistent breed of film - the sadistic Art House flick - an unrecognized non-genre where few filmgoers have gone before. If you're one of those rare individuals that can find beauty in blood and comfort in a cinematic galore of gore, Defenceless: A Blood Symphony is a film that will fulfill your discerning cinematic appetite like never afore. 

-Ty E


Sidonie said...

I was actually watching this before,but was too tiered to concentrate and thought I'd keep it for another time, then forgot about it. Think i need to go back to it now though :) i loved the no dialogue thing, made it alot more interesting.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Thank you for your open-minded approach to the movie.

I'd just like to add that Susanne Hausschmid was a true collaborator in this process and went through hell. May have puut her off ever doing another movie like thius.

Other noteworthy contributions were George Papinocalaou (original music), a very fine composer, and actors Bethany Fisher, Nikita Fisher, George Gladstone, Anthony Thorne, Craig Sayers, Erin Walsh, and the always indefatigible Richard Wolstencroft.