Showing posts with label second run. Show all posts
Showing posts with label second run. Show all posts

23 March 2015

DVD Review - Traps (1998)

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Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Distributor:
Second Run
Release Date:
23rd March 2015
Rating: 18
Director:
Věra Chytilová
Cast:
Lenka Vychodilová, Lucie Vackárová, Tomás Hanák
Buy: Traps - [DVD]

Věra Chytilová is often considered a feminist filmmaker even though she would always reject being labelled and called herself an “individualist”. Given the fact the Czechoslovakian communist government oppressed her for years, it’s understandable to see her desire to reject Western labels. Chytilová is best known to Western audiences for her psychedelic masterpiece Daisies, which annoyed the powers so much she could only made one film, Fruits of Paradise, in the next 9 years. In the late ‘70s her blacklisting was lifted and she resumed making films.

Second Run, after releasing Daisies (which I assumed is one of their best selling titles), have made it their goal to release more films from Věra Chytilová. The first one to come out is Traps, which is one of her later films, it came out in 1998. It has a decidedly mixed response on release and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a pitch black comedy about a young vet who is picked up by two men and raped, she later gets her revenge on them by cutting off their testicles.

It’s certainly not a subtle statement on the abuse of power; one of the men is a politician for example and the film starts with some pigs getting their balls cut off. It’s also a brilliant statement on male chauvinism banter; before they pick the woman up they talk about how easy it is to just pick a woman etc. The film pulls a near impossible balancing act when it comes to the depiction of the rapists, obviously you don’t, nor should you, feel sympathy for them, but you can feel their pain of losing their manhood. The two men are portrayed as bourgeois fools, which shows the influence of Luis Buñuel who was a massive influence on almost all Czech New Wave filmmakers.

It’s an angry rallying call to sterilize the ruling class of Czechoslovakia; the government may have changed from communist to capitalist, but their intent hasn’t. Traps also plays like an absurdist comedy, with even elements of populist slapstick comedy which may have troubled some viewers at the time. It completely subverts the genres it’s playing with, like the revenge genre and populist comedy, and remains such a startling film.

★★★★
Ian Schultz