Saturday, 15 December 2012

Freaks - Will's Review

Sadly, the directors cut of Freaks no longer exists; 30 mins or so were cut after a disastrous test screaming... One woman even threatens to sue MGM claiming that the movie caused her to miscarry!

Whether that's why the version that exists today seems a little oddly passed in the middle is hard to say; many films from that era seem to be missing a middle segment (how did they get King Kong back to New York anyway?) so the jump from flirtation to wedding may possibly have always existed.

What we do know that we are missing is an extended 'revenge' sequence, which originally included a castration!

In any case, Freaks, in it 63 min version was STILL banned in the UK for 30 years!

The most striking thing about the movie, is where it's sympathies lay: dislike it's sensationalist title and tag line ("Can a full sized woman ever truly love a MIDGET?") from the opening crawl the film sides firmly with the eponymous sideshow workers.

***Spoilers for an 80 year old movie follow***
The moment when the freaks descend upon Cleopatra remains suspenseful to this day, and it's easy to see why it would have disturbed an audience back when movies were still so young (this was one of the very early 'talkies' remember).

The revenge of turning a woman into a chicken-beast feels slightly at odds with the rest of the movie to me, implying some supernatural ability on the part of the carnies.

Brownings direction is superb, possibly his best (it's a shame then, that this movie all but ended his carrier), the cinematography is superb (although there was no such thing as a DP back then, so browning gets the credit for that too).

The only real problem is the sound; but again, sound design wasn't a thing in 1931 either, so the sound problem is just one if those things that you have to put up with when you watch movies as older than your grandparents.

An excellent and quirky little film, that deserves a watch.

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