Twisted Minds - Underground Reviews

onsdag 12 september 2018

MELANCHOLIE DER ENGEL (2009)

Directed by: Marian Dora
Written by: Frank Oliver, Marian Dora
Stars:  Zenza Raggi, Frank Oliver, Janette Weller... read more

Country: Germany
Style: Drama | Extreme |Fantasy
Runtime: 2h 38min
DATE: 2018-09-12 | WRITER: EMIL JOHANSSON SCREENSHOTS:

Für Thomas - the friend who have done more for me the last year than he ever will fully comprehend. Vielen Dank..

This is a review I've dreaded to do for quite some time. It's not one of those easy to interpret films with some good old fun gore or even a Bergman film with maybe a clear direction and motive. No, this is something else. Almost a look into yourself and what view you have on yourself. A film up to interpretation for the viewer.

What is it about?
To me it's about many different things and I always discover something new everytime I rewatch it. Forget about the story itself for a moment because that is not what this film is about, it's about something else. Something deeper. Perhaps our own humanity and existens.

This might sound a bit pretentious but it's really not. I love art that I can watch, read or listen to more times than one and interpret in different ways. MdE does just that. A first time viewer will have one hell of a ride into madness and whatever the see in it - for better or worse. This is one of those films I can watch in almost any mindset, but let me put it likes this: when I feel down (like very down) I always watch a Dora-film. The controlled madness of the descent into your own depression and anxiety is a scary, but very rewarding, experience. Of course this isn’t for everyone - absolutely not. It's like Dora-films themselves. Not everyone will get them, most people will hate them and not because they’re raw and uncompromising - just like the trip down your very own downward spiral. Yes, I know I sound like a art critic “that gets it”. But what I'm saying is that if you haven’t stood on the edge, looking down into that famous abyss and experienced the feelings and emotion of total helplessness you might not be able to get what Dora does. I’m not saying that I get everything he does, this is just my interpretation. You'll never see a more beautiful depiction of life and death in its raw glory than here, at least I haven’t yet. I’m not trying to give Dora a metaphoric fellatio here, I'm just telling you what I feel when I put on a film like MdE. This isn’t any horror- or art film. This is not put on for pure entertainment. You will not be the same person after seeing this. But maybe you need to have experienced the sort of pain and emotion that usually drives a person to suicide to really understand and appreciate what it is. Some people have even been saved from themselves by this film. They have given life another chance thanks to something others would call despicable, worthless and exploitive. I have a feeling those people really doesn’t get it. Maybe they haven’t been on the rim...

Let’s get back on track here…
Of course the film has a story. On the surface it’s about Brauth and Katze who gathers a group of people to return to a house where “something” happened years ago and they are going to try to relive it or at least get some closure, that’s at least the best way I can describe it and I bet I got something wrong. The important part is that they are back at “the center of evil”, in Doras own words (see Magnus Blomdahls documentary Revisiting Melancholie der Engel (2017) for more information about that and I recommend that you do watch it). The production of this film was hell. I won’t go into detail, but the hell you are watching was captured as it was happening. Hell has never been captured in this way before in a film and it almost hurts just to watch. Almost. Because it is incredibly beautiful. So beautiful that you almost forget the pain. Dora is a master of his craft and uses visual storytelling in a way that rivals most bigger productions. As far as I know he was completely alone behind the camera during the shoot. Do you understand the struggle of only having a skeleton crew during a shoot? He was alone. It’s admirable to say the least.

Not only is the camera work amazing, the script is beautifully crafted with a lot of references to German literature. To many for me to count or even get. This is one of the reasons I’ve hold off writing about MdE - I don’t actually get everything this film tells it’s audience. I know I miss some things watching it, and I’ve watched it many times now. I’ve read about some of the things getting alluded to trying to get a grip on what Dora wants to say. Finding out what he reference to isn’t the easiest, but adds mystery to the film, and of course, the man himself.

It’s a very philosophical heavy film and that might scare off some of the gorehounds looking for a quick fix, they won’t find any fun splatter here. But something closer to the beautiful and ugly truth of the world. There is a DVD-boxset called “The World of Marian Dora” that features Melancholie der Engel (2009), Reise nach Agatis (2010), Debris Documentar (shot in 2003 and released in 2009) and a whole lot of shorts. The name of the box got me thinking… The World of Marian Dora. Maybe I don’t get the implications of the name, but I disagree. It isn’t his world exclusively that he shows through his films. He just points the camera at the things happening among us and package them for us all to watch. The shorts do this especially and they are relentless. I hope to get to those soon enough. But Dora is more of a documentarian than a filmmaker of fiction, even in his fictive work you sometimes can’t call out the differences or where the line between fiction and reality is drawn. I honestly love that. Love it in the true definition of the word. I have never encountered anything like Doras work anywhere else and I’ve been around for a while. MdE is a perfect example of a fine mixture between fiction and reality without telling us what is what.

Anyway…
MdE features some great acting from its ensemble, nothing to complain about really. Our two leads (I’ll go with their credited names for a couple of reasons) Zenza Raggi and Frank Oliver does an amazing job in this world that we are invited into. This may be our world, but it’s not our reality. At least not when we enter the house - “the center of evil”, and it feels like it… The emotion pour out of the screen and fills the viewer with all kinds of feelings. Everything from love, hate, despair, grief and especially and, maybe weirdly, hope. Those who doesn’t sit through the whole running time (a pretty big sit with its 158 minutes, not counting the extended version which runs for about five minutes more) will sadly miss most of the “hope”-part. This shouldn’t be treated like any horror film that’s being used as an endurance test, kinda like A Serbian Film has been for its whole existens. The difference being that with A Serbian Film you know what you get by reading on the package basically - even with its symbolism. Sit through the first minutes and you kinda get the hang of it. MdE has so many layers that you have to see the whole thing to decide what you really think of it and what it can offer you. Not only as a viewer, but as a human being.

Okay, maybe I’m reading what too much into it. Maybe I’m just as pretentious as some people have said I am. Maybe my head is so far up my ass that I can’t see the one thing that everyone else clearly can read out as the films intenion. But I stand my ground. I believe this film offers the audience as many different interpretations of its story and purpose as there is viewers. I think everyone seeing it will see something of their own in it. Everyone will experience Melancholie der Engel differently.

With an amazing soundtrack partially made by David Hess this film succeeds to get under your skin and touch all of your emotions. It’s one of the most brutal viewing experiences you’ll ever have, I’m not kidding. One of the most brutal and beautiful films ever made.

This is a must watch for anyone ready to step back from the brink of their own extinction and take a deep look into the abyss of themselves. You might not be ready for what you see, but it’s there, it’s a part of you and, most scary and comforting of all, it won’t go away. Only evolve based on how you you choose to treat that deep deep part of yourself. Take it as you will.

I might want to come back to this film again in the future. It’s taken me a long time to write and rewrite this. I have taken out maybe one and a half page in total of things I wasn’t satisfied with or that didn’t fill any purpose in the end result. I wish to thank Semenya Frenjani for having the patient of waiting for me and my writings. This was a difficult write and might feel a bit broken or fragmented. I’m sorry for that dear reader. Is this even a review? Is it an essay? Mad ramblings? Anyways - thank you for taking the time to get here and I really hope you enjoyed the read. If not - feel free to contact me by mail, and I will gladly try to answer any questions or listen to any criticism you might have.


My rating: 5 out of 5





















MORE DETAILS:

Produced by: Georg Treml
Cinematography by: Marian Dora
Editing by: Marian Dora
Special Effects by: -
Music by: Samuel Dalferth
Language:  German
Color:  Black & White | Color

Distributor: Shock DVD Entertainment


EMIL JOHANSSON:

Writer for Twisted Minds. Indie-filmmaker based in (but not exclusive to) Gothenburg, Sweden. Has been acting since the age of ten and has writing for even longer time. He likes all sorts of movies and are doing his best to find the good parts in the worst ones. Writer of articles and reviews in both English and Swedish. Lover of the indie film-scene where he believe true creativity and freedom happens today - To express the wonderful words of Troma; "Let's make some art!".
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