“The Life and Death of a Porno Gang”
A Serbian Film
Marko is a young film director finally gets the chance to direct his first film. He meets up with porn director Cane and the two men begin working together and in their films they reflect the anger they have for the society they live in. Then Marko started a porn cabaret club where socio-political shows were featured and this gives him the opportunity to meet porn stars. Soon he is in the company of Johnny and Max, a gay couple, Ceca, a transvestite, and the junkies Rade and Darinlka. Just as the shows get started Cane’s brother, a policeman stops the show and the local press comes down hard on them. Marko decides that the time has come to leave Belgrade and go on tour throughout Serbia. No sooner does the tour begin then a series of conflicts erupts in the different places that the group visits. Franc, a German journalist met while on tour suggests that Marko make movies with real sex and political statements. Franc told him that he should make snuff movies – where people die for real on camera. Reluctantly Marko convinces the rest of the gang to go into the snuff making industry, an industry he knows nothing about but now the question is if he ever can get out of it…
This is the second film of this kind to come out of Serbia—the first “Serbian Movie” caused quite a stir because of its political statements and its depiction of graphic sex. This is more humorous that the anxiety in “Serbian Movie”. At times it feels like a black comedy filled with misery. It doesn’t have obvious disgusting scenes and that makes this film a more serious reflection, where the viewer is forced to think to understand the social criticism.
Despite the title, it does not contain much pornography. There are a few isolated clips of gay sex and that’s all there is, more or less. The film is made in such a way that it only seems natural that it’s there. The entire film has a documentary feel to it should contain those clips and scenes. The actual pornography story that opens the film is certainly entertaining but it is not until the more sober elements come into play that it gets really masterful. This is a politically provocative film at its best.
One of the most shocking art films to come out in years, “The Life and Death of a Porno Gang” uses shocking sexual imagery and the metaphor of pornography to address the horrors of the Balkan Wars. Naturally, this film is loaded up with naked bodies, extreme sex, jaw-dropping insanity and more!
This new movie is set during the late ‘90s, the end years of Slobodan Milosevic’s rule over Serbia. The story is violently sexual, disturbing, sometimes painful to watch, and occasionally hilarious. This is Mladen Djordjevic’s statement on modern Serbia. It is the story of lawless souls and shot rustically and raw from handheld cameras. The scenes are bleak and dark but always provocative. It’s a transgressive film with the scenes of rape, self-mutilation, bestiality, snuff murders and suicide. The most shocking aspect of “Life and Death of a Porno Gang” is that some characters volunteer for snuff movies due to poverty-ridden despair.
Not only does “The Life and Death Of A Porno Gang” succeed on a very basic level, presenting a catalog of imagery which is guaranteed to upset all but the most hardened of extreme movie viewers (including sex, both heterosexual and gay, bestiality, snuff themed violence, water sports, self mutilation, and suicide), but it also serves as a brutal reminder of the atrocities of war. Director Djordjevic fully intended his film to work both as an exploitative shocker and as socio-political commentary. In addition to its many direct references to the war, the desensitization of the film’s characters reflects what many Serbians must have experienced on a day to day basis. It is shocking that the fact that poverty stricken peasants in the film are prepared to lay down their lives for the financial well-being of their loved ones also suggests that the country’s wealth distribution is seriously in trouble. I am not sure it is correct to say I enjoyed this film but I did in an odd sense of the word “enjoy”. It is totally effective and uncomfortable at the same time but it made me think and I do not feel that I will forget what I saw anytime soon.
- Posted in: GLBT Film