Jun 4, 2012

Le nécrophile

Unfortunately, temerarious and innovative films about necrophilia are quite hard to come by, so I am always stimulated by the possibility of viewing a new work of audacious avant-garde corpse-fucking. With their wealth of films relating to jaded incestuous romances gone awry and sexually aberrant behavior galore, one would think that France would have produced a number of revolutionary man-loves-corpse epics by now, but quite regrettably, that is not the case. Naturally, when I discovered the 36-minute French short Le nécrophile (2004) directed by Philippe Barassat, I was on tenterhooks. Admittedly, as a longtime kraut-lover and loather of abstract ideas relating to culture-distorting liberty, I must admit that I am an unrepentant Francophobe of sorts who would rather watch a screening of Schindler’s List at an Israeli drive-in than languish through the mundane masturbatory marxist disgorge that comes along with a Jean-Luc Godard marathon. That being said, I did not expect Le nécrophile to be as romantic nor as aesthetically-gratifying as either of Buttgereit’s Nekromantik flicks, yet it certainly proved to be a more farcical work with its brief yet fulfilling buffet of jovial incestuous pedophilia, campy cannibalism, and marvelously morbid moments of exceedingly awkward necrophilia. Indeed, Le nécrophile may deal with some of the most taboo topics ever explored in cinema, but these sordid scenarios are expressed in such a merry and startlingly palatable manner that I almost forgot that I was watching a film about serial necrophilia and the long-term effects such demented behavior could potentially have on a seemingly virginal preteen girl. The film follows a loathsome lunatic who is so grotesque and patently pathetic in appearance (and character) that he looks like the ill-fated bastard spawn of Peter Lorre à la Fritz Lang’s M (1931) and a mutant frog (He even has an elastic bug-catching tongue to boot) with Down syndrome.  When not isolating himself from the general peasant populous of the decrepit urban ghetto he calls home, the nervous necro basks in bumping angelic cadavers in the night.  This unintentionally humorous heteroclite fellow is so terribly timid that he is even unstrung whilst in the one-sided company of an inanimate corpse. When the piteous man is forced to adopt his young niece after her parents die, he must become more creative and covert in regards to probing cold-cadavers during the dead of night. When an adolescent Afro-Arab teenager falls in crossbreed puppy-love with his niece, the neurotic necro finds that his much cherished midnights of intimate necromancy are disastrously jeopardized, thus eventually culminating into dreadfully flustering results. 

 What makes Le nécrophile especially deathly dreary and markedly morose is not the actual moments of debauched necrophilia, but the domestic dystopian setting of the film; a discernibly decayed French ghetto inhabited by third world refugees and thoroughly mongrelized post-racial Frenchmen. While the unusually unprepossessing anti-hero resembles a bloated corpse himself and is thus symbolic of France of the old (one could argue that the corpse-fucking is an allegory for the inability of the average working-class Frenchman to respond to change) and now degenerated, the lovesick brown boy is denotative of the new 'French'; an innately hostile alien population that will ultimately replace the indigenous race(s) of France via mass illegal immigration and miscegenation. Out of all the characters featured in Le nécrophile, the necro’s niece is indubitably the most seemingly pure and untainted. With her glistening golden blonde-locks and angelic fair-skin, one ultimately feels more repelled by the prospect of the colored teen defiling her than seeing the depraved necrophile manhandle an expired corpse. As one soon finds out while watching Le nécrophile, the nymphet niece is not exactly the most unsullied and immaculate of little girls, but she is a self-sacrificing mademoiselle who will do anything – and I mean anything – to safeguard her exceedingly eccentric uncle and the dubious relationship that they share, even if it involves being deflowered at a less than mature age in a most nauseous and nefarious sort of way. In the end, the little gal proves to be her Uncle’s most dutiful guardian angel, despite the fact that she seems to be at an already more corrupted and unsalvageable state than a man that delights in dating and devouring the deceased. Although tragically despoiled during her early years of childhood, the bittersweet little lass is quite stalwart, stoic, and sophisticated for her age due to a short lifetime's worth of personal struggle, thus she acts as a symbol of hope for France; a once proud and invigorative nation that is now literally full of corpses (who actually make a reanimated appearance in the film) from great heroes of a long forgotten past.

 Although featuring some of the most unmentionable moments ever captured on celluloid, Le nécrophile is essentially a lovesome (if ludicrous) and sentimental (without being simpleminded) tragicomedic neo-fairytale about the unbreakable bond of family ties. If the longtime decadent and irrevocably deracinated French have to make a film about necrophilia, incest, and cannibalism as a way to inspire ideas of self-preservation, nationalism, in-group loyalty, then so be it. I, for one, always wished Georges Bataille was a fascist and Philippe Barassat's Le nécrophile seems to be an undaunted expression of the next best thing.

-Ty E

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