Saturday, April 23, 2011

Martyrs and Inside

As an attempt to possibly gain 2 1/2 more pages to my 8 page term paper, I thought of the brilliant idea of discussing it as a casual blog. Seeing as I'm having the up-most difficulty expressing my words at the moment in formal, maybe this will work, who knows!

So the 2 films I'm writing over are the French (extremely gory) films Martyrs and Inside. Both films share a common thread of feminine ideals, blood soaked and unbearably hard to watch torture/stabbing scenes, and a common phobia of the outside finding its way to harm the inside (oh ahahaha, that's even a title of one of the films, how clever of me).
Probably the real reason I chose these films is that they are the only 2 movies within the past few years that have actually scared me first time watching (we will discount the fact that The Human Centipede gives me the chills every time I see that damn trailer, but that's not because it's scary, I just find it so gross).

So, here are the trailers for those who are not familiar with the films

Both films have an interesting new twist on the beast in the boudoir motif that circulates many horror films. While Inside is a little more traditional with the home invader being the antagonist, Martyrs has us following one of their 2 protagonists, who acts as the home invader. The switching of the roles is very crucial to what the film stands for. By flipping the patriarchal nuclear family as the enemy, rather than the one being harmed, the audience's sympathies lie then with the invader herself (who is everything but the norm). With Inside, the home invader wins, which is also a switch on the normative ideal that the victim inside the house winds up saving the day and defeating the evil from the outside.
Another really interesting thing these films touch on is the allusion to France's xenophobia. Specifically with Inside, the Paris house represents France, while La Femme (the home invader) represents the unstable outside trying to find its way in. This situation is also a parallel to the ongoing 2005 riots that happened in suburban neighborhoods in France. Interesting, no? The film also revolves around the riots as well (the protag's a photo journalist, the police officers who attempt to protect her mention them...etc), but this is just so the audience hopefully understands what the film's actually trying to say about the riots in the end when the outside wins over the inside.
If Martyrs is very explicit with symbolizing France's xenophobia, it's really hard to find. However, something I can mention on my blog which I can't mention in my essay due to the fact that I can't seem to actually get more the the online article than the title, is the idea behind Martyrs metaphorically defiling and neutering it's lead female. Though I can see where the article is going, mainly from the 2nd half of the film's horrible torture scene, I'd have to disagree. I feel like the second half of the film is an "exploration of female empowerment" (look at the fancy quote I have from a article you can find here." Sure, they cut off all her hair (which is the sheer essence of femininity) and they torture her until she has successfully transformed into a martyr, but I feel like this is way more empowering to women (oddly enough, don't make fun). The significance of a female martyr is essential to the film's overall meaning. Why is it that a man cannot be a martyr, hmm?? To even emphasize that women are much more biologically capable than men, the film has a series of photographs that are all of women. Sure enough, even this gigantic women, named Mademoiselle, is in charge of the estranged cult.

And why is it that femininity has to be all flowers and pink? La Femme, the antagonist of Inside, is total masculine, and even has this witch-like quality to her (which I've learned from analyst Doty that apparently totally means lesbian). Further, La Femme in french means woman. So, why would a character with such sheer lack of feminine qualities be named "woman"??! Could this mean that the writer wanted to take a stab at what their version of feminine actually is?? Well, I would like to think that. Maybe what both of these films tell their audiences is that femininity and masculinity are not so opposite as one would think...hmmm. Not only that, but that it's possible the females are in fact stronger than males, both films having examples of this (martyrs can only be females, La Femme kills every man that attempts to save Sarah).
As to not reveal everything I'm writing about in my term paper (I mean really, so far it's 6 pages long) I will stop here. But maybe one should think about what I wrote about and then possibly take another look at both the trailers (especially the Inside one, which I'm super glad I found because now I will totally be using it as back-up argument in my essay).

Super glad if you actually read my rant, and watch more foreign films :)

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