That was without question the most depraved thing I have ever seen; and I include "A Serbian Film" in that.
There was a point in this movie, during the films 3rd segment (it has 4, each given an on screen caption) that inspired from me I think the biggest reaction I have ever had to a piece of fiction, and I'll get to that in good time; I wasn't very far into the 2nd segment before I was wondering how this film is even legal.
Now, don't get me wrong; I absolutely think it should be legal; I strongly believe that ANY faked activity should be allowed, no matter how offensive I may personally find it, but it is a sad fact that English law does not agree, and we still have an Obscene Publications Act which can be applied to fiction.
In fact once again, as with Week 83's Antichrist, the prejudices against horror and towards "Art Film" shines through. How this can be passed uncut, while similar scenes were trimmed from week 63's Human Centipede 2, I cannot comprehend.
As I say, the film is split into 4 sections; in the first "Anteinferno", 4 men (referred to only as duke, magistrate, bishop and president) agree to marry each others daughters, in order to bind their group together. The daughters are never seen or heard about again. Then the 4 men, along with some soldiers who work for them, abduct 18 young people (9 of each sex). They are then taken to a mansion where the daily routine is explained.
Each day, The 4 men, the soldiers, the prisoners and 4 prostitutes are to gather in the "Orgy Room", Where the prostitutes are to tell depraved tales to 'inspire' the men. The prisoners are then to act out anything that comes to the men's minds. Any disobedience will be punished, and any religious act is punishable by death.
The 2nd part of the film, "The Circle of Manias", is arguable the most depraved (although not the most stomach churning) segment. The prostitutes' stories in this section seem to center mostly around being covered in seamen. The lords' reenactments (thankfully?) do not follow this pattern; however the way the captives are treated is vile. As well as the rape which is already pretty much a given, they are humiliated and treated as subhuman constantly - not only by the lords and prostitutes, but also by the soldiers. At one point for instance the girls serve a meal to everyone else; they are naked (all of the captives are naked throughout most of the movie), one of the soldiers spits in one of the girls, which causes riotous laughter, she is then raped anally (until the president decides that it's his turn to be sodomized by the offending soldier). later all of the slaves are put on leads and made to act like dogs (during this, one is fed some food into witch a pin has been inserted, with bloody and cringe inducing results).
I can't actually put into words just how offensive the degradation in this segment is... y'all know I'm not easily shocked, but this is truly harrowing. At one point, a girl invokes the name of god, hoping to be killed as per the rules, and is devastated only to have her name added to a book. Throughout the movie, any who resist or break the rules are added to this book.
When the on-screen caption for the next segment is displayed, the viewer instantly knows that they are in trouble, because the 3rd section is called "The Circle of Shit"
The prostitutes stories refer to shit eating, and it isn't long before one of the lords takes a dump on the floor and hands a slave a spoon... suffice to say i threw up in my mouth a little.
The president orders a 'wedding' between 2 of the slaves, the girl is left naked and the boy dressed as a girl. The wedding feast is the most nauseating thing I have ever watched. Huge piles of shit are brought out and served to everyone. The Lords (and even some of the soldiers) eat the excrement with gusto - so much gusto that it fails to be repelling... it simply looks like what it more than likely is... people eating chocolate mousse. The acting on the part of the 'bride' as he is force fed however, really does sell the stuff as shit. I did actually throw up at this point (a movie watching first for me!).
You know you are in a bad place when the final segment of a movie is called "The Circle of Blood", and you are relieved.
The slaves are interrogated, and one by one turn on each other, revealing rule braking, their names added to the book.
Finally, 3 of the men watch from windows with binoculars, while the Bishop, along with the soldiers, finally kill everyone who made it into the punishment book, by way of branding, hanging, scalping, eye gouging, castration etc.
Overall, it is, as I think I have made clear, the most repugnant movie I have ever seen. I'm glad that it's legally available; I see no reason for any sane person to want to watch (much less enjoy) this movie, but everything in it is faked and consensual, and there is no reason for any "free" society to ban it. "poor taste" is subjective, after all.
That said, as I mentioned in my opening, I get the distinct impression that the only reason it is legally available is that it is somehow supposed top be "artistic", and "well made" (apparently it has something important to say about fascism too). To this, I say "bollocks", "art" is every bit as subjective as "poor taste", and therefore neither is a reason to ban, or allow, anything.
Besides which, the only thing I classed as particularly arty here was the Danté reference in the segment titles.
The political message in non existent - if not for the fact it was set in wartime Italy there would be no reason to even consider fascism As far as "well made" goes? the very 70's costumes in the wedding scene, along with the oddly grey fake flesh during the torture scenes beg to differ.
Add to all of this that the movie has no real "end" to speak of, and I'd encourage you to stay away. This is one of those that we watched... so you don't have to!