söndag 6 juni 2010
Here is a fun little flick about men eating other men. No, it's not a Jeff Stryker movie and there's actually nothing fun about it whatsoever. What we have here is a supposedly true story about a group of English and Irish convicts in Australia in the early 1800s that escape into the Tasmanian rainforest, a really nasty place with no wildlife and nothing to eat. No one knows what really happened, the movie is based on the the only survivors confession that the authorities at the time thought was just something to cover for the rest of the escaped prisoners.
This is just depressing stuff. In short, this movie features a group of eight men walking through a truly awesome landscape (if it werent for the subject, the movie would be a perfect commercial for tourism in Tasmania. It is that beatiful.) while killing each other off one by one, eating the remains. They are all dirty, hungry and ruthless which unfortunately means that there are no characters to care for. Actually, there are no characters to speak of at all. The actors do an exellent job but the problem is that the only means of characterization is just who is hostile to who within the group. At the end of the day it is fairly hard to keep track of all of them and their motivations, especially halfway into the movie when everyone is covered in filth and wet from rain. This makes it a bit harder to feel any major anguish when the brutal violence starts,when you are having a hard time realizing who just got killed, it all feels a bit wasted. The various different accents and the fact that the dvd I watched has no subtitles other than when some of the characters speak Gaelic doesnt really help.
But, make no mistake, this is not a bad movie, just a slightly flawed one. As I mentioned earlier Van Diemens Land looks incredibly good especially since it was made on a fairly low budget and the locations are truly spectacular. The story in itself is a very interesting one and I suspect that part of my initial dissapointment lie in the fact that this is not a horrormovie. This is not a goremovie, most of the violence is implied (except for the first murder, a really nasty and brutal piece of execution) which does make it all the more harrowing than if it had been shown in graphic detail. Van Diemens Land is a brutal drama about people who are willing to do _anything_ to survive and if you are able to stomach its brutality (for once I actually believe the stories about people walking out of screenings) it is quite a journey. Yes, these characters are sentenced criminals but you never find out for what. Are these acts of ruthlessness or of desperation? The movie never even tries to give an answer to that question. It just shows you the nasty details and lets you decide for yourself. A lingering experience that isnt for everyone.