Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vase de noces (1974)

...aka: One Man and His Pig
...aka: Pig Fucking Movie, The
...aka: Wedding Trough

Directed by:
Thierry Zéno

Sometimes found on the must-see lists of shock cinema buffs, this grainy, obscure, black-and-white Belgian "art" flick isn't likely to find its way into the VCR or DVD player of many. It has never been officially released in the United States, or most other countries for that matter. And even if it had been, I doubt it would have ever lined the shelves of your local Blockbuster. Well, granted Blockbuster still stocked movies made before 2000. It is an extremely slow-moving and offbeat story of love shared between a disturbed young farmer and his prized pet piggy; a "love" that's a little unrequited for the porcine member of the couple, obviously. Though audacious in premise, it's rather monotonous in execution and suffers from padding and overlong "arty" scenes of the lone character (played by Dominique Garny, who also wrote it) doing silly and/or disturbing things around the farm. He rolls around a metal tube and wooden tub for minutes at a time. He wallows in manure for minutes at a time. He stuffs mason jars full of flowers, feathers and, uh, other stuff, for minutes at a time. He runs around in a field flying a kite for minutes at a time. One thing this movie does manage to nail is the overall feeling of alienation, isolation and loneliness. It feels even more oppressive and removed from conventional society (almost post apocalyptic) in the fact there's no dialogue. The only interactions in the film are between man and beast. Though he desperately tries, the farmer (who is first seen trying to put a baby doll head over the head of a bird) never manages to really connect or find kinship with any of the beasts he's surrounded by. In place of written word we get amplified moaning, all manner of animal sounds and a soundtrack featuring weird electronic bleeps mixed with disquieting noises found in nature.

As far as disturbing content and grim imagery goes, this does have a few scenes that will probably raise eyebrows. Naturally, the plot itself and bestiality content are going to disturb many right out of the gate. There are long takes of the farmer lovingly stroking the pig, lots of intimate close-ups of various pig body parts and even a (thankfully) soft-core man-pig sex scene. Said sex scene eventually results in the pig becoming pregnant and giving birth to three piglets. We get to see a close shot of an actual pig birth. There are also a couple of amusing scenes of the man trying to make his piglet offspring more civilized. He tries to make them wear clothes and even tries to teach them table manners, but to no avail. All this results in pigs being killed. The actual pigs are killed off-screen, but seeing cute little dead piglets hanging from nooses isn't going to sit well with some people. And then there's the consuming of certain things best left unsaid by me. And a bit of puking. The shocks may even be a little mild to the jaded sick movie freaks in the audience who are probably the only ones out there who are going to seek out this particular film.

The films also has this strange fascination with birds. The farm is crawling with chickens and ducks and geese and other birds. I'm sure this is supposed to represent this, and this is supposed to represent that, etc., but it's one of those movies where metaphor is frequently overshadowed by monotony. They certainly found a great crumbling farm (reflection of the diseased mind) to set all the action in, though. All in all, it's probably worth a look for fans of bizarre fringe cinema.


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