The Film, Like All Extremist Films

1311 WordsMay 24, 20176 Pages
Beginning around the late 1990s, a transgressive cinematic movement by the name of The New French Extremity emerged and brought forth an “aggressive and abrasive [form] of cinema that [sought] a more confrontational experience.” (Palmer, 22). Among the numerous films within the movement, few films have maintained their initial notoriety, and far less have continued to be as provocative as Martyrs (2008). Like other films within the New French Extremity, Martyrs aims to be uncompromising and unpleasant through its implementation of avant garde filming techniques and its pushing of social boundaries. From the opening sequence of Martyrs, the film, like all extremist films, proves to be “highly experimental, employing discontinuous editing…show more content…
After a couple seconds, she laughs and her attacker is revealed to be her brother. The tension is now drawn out and the audience can feel at ease as the rest of the family’s morning plays out normally. They joke around, have small talk with each other, and the brother complains about trivial matters as they eat breakfast. The doorbell rings and when the father answers the door, he’s shot in the chest and propelled into the staircase behind him with tremendous force. As a result, the audience presumes that “the everyday and ordinary… is increasingly imbued with a sense of threat” and later in the film as “nothing happens, [this] nothingness creates suspense” (29). Comparisons to torture porn have been drawn to films like Martyrs in an attempt to dismiss its use of brutal violence as pointlessly excessive. As Xan Brooks states in his one-star review, “You may well feel in need of a shower after sitting through Martyrs, a slick essay in Gallic torture porn”. While there are undeniable similarities between films of the New French Extremity and torture porn, these seem to be deliberate subversions of the conventions found in the latter subgenre. Where in a torture porn film, there is “no point of identification for the spectator” and this provides the audience with a safe viewing experience in which they’re free to revel jovially in the horrific imagery; Martyrs allows the audience to sympathize and identify with Anna

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