The British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom today defended scenes that portray extreme violence against women in his latest film, saying that he felt the need to stay true to the pulp fiction novel on which it is based.
The Killer Inside Me , an adaptation of the 1952 novel by Jim Thompson depicts brutal scenes of rough sex and murder.
One scene sees the main character, deputy sheriff Lou Ford – played by Casey Affleck – bludgeon his prostitute girlfriend (Jessica Alba) almost to death until her face is unrecognisable, while later another woman (Kate Hudson) is punched
repeatedly. She chokes to death as her killer and lover slips on her urine.
The attacks, accompanied by the music of Gustav Mahler and the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini as well as jaunty swing tunes, are captured in close-up camera shots. Those and the sound of gurgling blood and cracking bones leave little to the
Speaking today a press screening of the film at the Berlin film festival, which saw people walking out and booing, Winterbottom said he had deliberately intended for the film to shock: It was intentionally shocking. The whole point of the story
is, here is someone who is supposed to be in love with two women who he beats to death, and of course the violence should be shocking. If you make a film where the violence is entertaining, I think that's very questionable .
Winterbottom appeared to be mildly irritated by the criticism, which observers in Berlin say may lead to scenes being cut before it can be made available to a wider audience: Loads of films promote violence as entertainment, but I don't think
this one does and neither would I want to do something that's going to encourage violence.
The first was the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds .
I should have remembered that Tarantino's signature is extreme and graphic violence, even though it is purportedly tongue-in-cheek - and an in-joke on other movies - and is therefore considered the last word in fashionable postmodern irony.
What's more disturbing by far than the actual images of blood and gore, however, is the psychopathic sadism and indifference to suffering displayed by the Brad Pitt character and his band of killers, who beat heads to pulp and twist fingers in
All of this is played for laughs. But what exactly are we supposed to be laughing at? Sadism? Suffering? Genocide?
Yet for such a stomach-turning farrago, Tarantino receives mass adulation. Apart from the Baftas, Inglourious Basterds has received eight Academy Award nominations and the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. Michael Winterbottom
The second shock to my system at 38,000ft up was the American thriller Law Abiding Citizen.
...what makes it so repellent is the extreme sadism of the murders that the vengeful victim carries out, slowly dismembering his family's attacker in order to inflict upon him as much agony as possible - and in which the perpetrator of this
torture, the supposed victim of injustice, takes a psychopathic pleasure.
If there's supposed to be some message in these movies about revenge or justice, it certainly evaded me. These are simply exceptionally nasty, cynical pieces of celluloid trash.
The slickness in their making barely disguises the fact that these films are seriously sick. What is so disturbing is the sadism - the fact that the characters take such pleasure in causing other human beings extreme agony.
In one of the latest examples, the British director Michael Winterbottom has defended scenes in his film The Killer Inside Me that portray extreme violence against women.
This, apparently, depicts brutal scenes of rough sex and murder; the violence, carried out to a soundtrack of classical music, is depicted in close-up shots that leave little to the imagination.
So awful is all this that, when the movie was screened last weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, there were walk-outs and booing.
Winterbottom claimed he had deliberately set out to shock. If you make a film where the violence is entertaining, I think that's very questionable, he said.
That's why it is so sick. Winterbottom says it wouldn't lead to actual violence against women because such acts are depicted as ugly and the central character, a policeman with a secret liking of sadomasochistic sex, is an unattractive figure.
But this isn't how such films work on people's psyche. Their main danger is that they have in general a desensitising or brutalising effect - and may indeed inspire a few disturbed individuals to commit acts of violence themselves.
They break the taboos against extreme behaviour simply by portraying that behaviour - and thus help destroy the constraints that preserve elementary norms of decency.
Saw the bit about Melanie Phillips and in flight torture porn. To hear a woman who supports the illegal mass murder of thousands of Iraqis and the Israeli war machine's slaughter of Palestinians bleating about the damaging effects of violent films
The BBFC have passed the eagerly awaited Michael Winterbottom film as 18 uncut.
No doubt the likes of the Daily Mail will be contributing further to the films publicity.
Anyway the BBFC kindly explained their decision as follows:
The Killer Inside Me is an adaptation of Jim Thompson's noir crime novel of the same name about a psychopathic small town Sheriff. It was passed 18 for very strong violence, sadomasochistic sex scenes and child abuse.
The film features several scenes of very strong violence. These include sadistic killings and beatings, with some focus on female victims' fear and terror (for example sight of a woman urinating after being beaten). There is some
focus on the infliction of pain and injury , including a long sequence featuring a strong beating to a female character's face. This is shown from the perpetrator's point of view. There are also some strong bloody shootings.
There are scenes of sexual violence and threat, including a discreet child rape scene, and several shots of strong sadomasochistic sexual activity and violence. There is some focus on the aftermath of such activity, with focus on
female characters with bruises and welts and cigarette burns, including black and white photographs of a bruised woman in a sexual pose. There are scenes suggesting child abuse including sight, from a child's point of view, of a female character with
bruised and welted buttocks as she invites him to punch and hurt her.
In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations and the Human Rights Act 1998, at 18 the BBFC's Guideline concerns will not normally override the principle that adults should be free to choose their
own entertainment within the law. Although several scenes are undoubtedly very strong and impactful, with the potential to cause offence to some viewers, the clear generic context (a film noir) and presentation of complicated and disturbing ideas was
permissible at 18 . No material was found to be in breach of the criminal law, or created through the commission of a criminal offence. Although there are portrayals of strong sexual and sadistic violence and sadomasochist sexual behaviour, the
scenes in question do not eroticise or endorse sexual assault or pose a credible harm risk to viewers of 18 and over.
The Killer Inside Me also includes some strong sex scenes, some strong bloody detail after beatings and shootings and scenes of threat as characters are in danger. There are also brief references to suicide, although these
lack any detail or novel information.
Jessica Alba gets violently beaten in her new film The Killer Inside Me - but does that really
make it one of the most controversial films ever made?
The film has seemingly split the critics between those who think it's a bold and dark piece of adult film making, and those who think it's a gruesome portrayal of misogyny.
British director Michael Winterbottom has defended his work to Sky News, insisting if he was going to adapt one of the most famous graphic pulp novels of the fifties, he would have to stay true to the original vision: Obviously this is a story
that involves some violence towards women and I can understand that is shocking. It should be shocking. If you made a film where there's a guy beating up a woman and it was enjoyable that would be wrong. The original novel was written by Jim
Most critics have picked up on two particular scenes in this remake, one of which features Jessica Alba's character getting battered by the murderous Lou Ford, played to chilling effect by Casey Affleck.
The BBFC passed it uncut as an 18 Certificate, saying the scenes in question do not eroticise or endorse sexual assault or pose a credible harm risk to viewers of 18 and over .
The director, though, hopes open-minded cinema fans will at least give it a chance. Every interview has been about the violence of the film which I understand because violence is shocking, he sighs: But at the same time it's a shame we
don't get to talk about the actors and the dialogue and the story. There are two violent scenes in the whole film and the rest of it is a portrayal of Lou Ford as a sort of interesting, complex and violent character. Unfortunately we never get
onto that part as we end up talking about the violence.