If you will recall, I wrote about the Netflix rating system a while ago and how utterly abysmal that is. Well, for some reason, I am finding more and more such websites, including this particularly ghastly website, www.movieguide.org.
The set up is simple; it examines whether or not a film is “moral” based on Judeo-Christian principles. We have seen that before. What sets this one apart is that the “reviewers” openly call for “offensive” movies to be censored and even encourage viewers to contact the MPAA and complain about the film not being banned in the United States. Never mind the fact that this is far outside the bounds of the MPAA’s power and would essentially be like asking a janitor in the Congressional building to create a cleaner fuel source; the mere fact that anyone would ask this demonstrates that they are certainly not qualified to examine art of any kind, much less pass judgment on it.
Thus, I would like to start a new series, discussing how this website review their films and how utterly wrong their approach is. If you want to truly discuss films in terms of morality – well, there certainly is a place for all such things. Religions are more philosophies that can help people find a guide in life. I am not here to diminish religion; if you choose to be Christian or Jewish or and Muslim or Buddhist and find that your life has improved, then good for you. But do not expect everyone to follow the same belief system and do not try and justify your calls for censorship and your hatred of the modern by using the Bible. A film critique that spends most of its time wagging its tongue at the moral choices the director makes is barely a critique at all. It is not even a review; it is essentially censorship and shows more of a hatred for art then the Dadaists could ever possess. Art, true art, is not supposed to support one’s world view. It is supposed to challenge humanity and show them how there are different points of view amongst the population.
So, for this series, I have decided to examine, point by point, the claims they make in their “reviews” and how it is not really an examination of any of the film’s claims but ofni the authors own beliefs. If it does not match, the film is blamed; it is easier to do that than to examine one’s outlook of the world.
First up is Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. Their review can be found here.
So, before any discussion of the film’s themes or ideas, readers are treated with a “content summary.” This is merely a list of every single thing someone might find offensive. Yet, by itself, this is not wrong – they do describe what is in the film correctly: “Extreme occult witchcraft worldview which makes the case in a horrific way that evil exists, including references to witches, God, and even Jesus, and particularly to Satan and demonic activity; two obscenities and one exclamatory profanity; extreme sadomasochistic violence including little boy falls to his death, woman beats her head against toilet, woman crushes unconscious man’s private parts, then manipulates him until the unconscious man relieves himself with a bloody discharge all over her,” etc. Again, I can’t really complain. All of these things ARE in the movie, but simply listing them feels hollow and is doing a disservice to a filmmaker. I could, for example, list of all of the violence that is present in any film about Jesus – “torture, sadomasochism, scenes of extreme cruelty..” but I would be missing the point completely.
And now we get to the actual review. And this is going to be painful. I do not know who wrote this, but I have my doubts as to whether or not they even saw the film. They certainly lack the intellectual capacity to understand it. I will simply run down the quotes – theirs are in bold.
ANTICHRIST seems to be Lars von Triers attempt to tell the rational world that evil exists. He forgets, however, that Jesus Christ is the antidote to evil-Right off the bat, the author misunderstands the film. It is not solely about evil; it is about guilt. She is punishing He for being unable to feel guilty about what has happened. She goes mad in order to point out what emotions he is missing. It is a CRITIQUE of the rational world – which seems like something the author would support, for his constant claims of the world “humanist.” Also, I am curious where the reference to Christ comes from. It is not something the film addresses at all; I have a feeling the author is merely trying to stick in his own beliefs, even if they do not match what is on-screen at all.
This movie is an evil ode to the forces of Satan. There is no doubt that it is trying to expose that evil exists, even in our rational world, but it does so in a very cruel and pornographic way. It is so relentless at times that it is excruciating –And how would you prefer evil to be examined? As a sort of cartoon villain twirling his mustache in delight and cackling? Evil is a concrete thing, yes, but to truly depict it involves…well, the very things that you seem to be against. For Lars von Trier to show it in the way he did was downright brave. This is what I mean by your missing the point; you take a good quality of the film and try to present it as something evil. Well, that is not how it works.
ANTICHRIST may be the most horrific horror movie of all time– This is just the only line in the entire thing that I agree with. I just felt I should mention it.
The triumph of humanism will not stop with Marxism, but it will lead to renewed paganism, and this movie is a stark example of the reality of paganism. If one thinks that it’s just the fertile imagination of Lars von Trier, they should pick up the newspaper, where every day similar horrific things are happening I am very confused by what you mean by “paganism.” Paganism, according to dictionary.com, means “a member of a group professing a polytheistic religion or any religion other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam.” Now, granted, it has also been used as a synonym for “heathen” which I suspect is what you mean. Actually, no, I am not sure that is what you mean. The reviewer seems to tie the word into a modern-day event – but I have never heard of such events as they occur in Antichrist happening in real life. And even if they were, so what? That would actually help the film; it would be a sort of commentary on our times. Even as it stands, it does fulfill that role. Again, this is a fine quality for a film to possess. I am not sure why the reviewer views it as detrimental; then again, it is becoming increasingly clear that the reviewer has some sort of nostalgia for Boston, circa 1675.
If the world had standards, this movie would be Triple X and banned. As it is, we are issuing our strongest warning not to see it, and to complain to the MPAA for allowing a movie like this to come to theaters near you – First off, the first sentence is unprofessional and sloppy. It demonstrates they did very little research into even how the ratings systems works; to put it bluntly, there is no such thing as the “Triple X” rating. The MPAA has not used the X rating for quite some time, and they never used any Triple X rating at all. Second, the MPAA has absolutely no power to take a film out of circulation. They rate; that is all they do. Now, certain ratings do mean that the film may be more difficult to distribute, but that has nothing to do with the MPAA. Secondly, why exactly should someone “not” see it? Because it may disturb their world view? As far as I am concerned, this is a reason TO see it. People cannot grow if they hide in a cave, not letting anything disturb their views.
Now I just feel depressed. I have never seen a more bizarre critique in my life; it is clear that whoever writes this tripe has no training in viewing any sort of art. Apparently, by writing this, I am taking the role of an irate professor trying desperately to open up a student’s mind. With that, I guess it is time for a homework Assignment. Movieguide.org, your assignment is to watch a film that will challenge and offend you. Then, you are to write about why it is an important film. I hope you complete the assignment sooner rather than later.