Monday, February 11, 2008

Euro 2008 Film Festival: Group D, Sweden

Film Festival Rules & Guidelines

Film selected (Year, Director): Thriller a cruel picture (1974, Bo Arne Vibenius)
Rating: 6/10
Rules compliance: All rules met
Relevance to Soccer: Violence and revenge

The off-field violence in soccer has become a cause of growing concern over the last decade or so. In the 1970's and 80's, the problem of soccer gang violence was mostly restricted to England. But after a few serious incidents of fan deaths in the 80's, the English game began to clean up and crack down on hooligans. Since the 1990's the English game's image has improved with regards to gang violence, but this problem has intensified in parts of Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Turkey, Holland to name a few regions. The tv show The Real Football Factories does a good job of showcasing the cauldrons of hatred that lurks amid so called fans of the game. The show idea sprung after the 2004 film The Football Factory showed how gangs organized themselves for fights in England. After that film, a tv show started by first exploring the real life gang violence around stadiums in the U.K before hopping across the ocean to observe the gangs across Europe and South America. These gangs use the soccer games as an excuse to get revenge, create havoc and sometimes ruthlessly kill opponents of another team. Most of these 'fans' spend more time organizing fights but might be hard pressed to even name a few details of the beautiful game. In some cases, the causes of hatred go back a few decades or even a century of so. The game then becomes an excuse to revive revenges from incidents of times past.

The Swedish film Thriller is about pure revenge. But the main character in the film (Madeleine) has a genuine need for revenge. Madeleine's life tragedy started in her childhood when she was raped and rendered mute. When she was barely a teenager, she was tricked by Tony who drugged and forced her into prostitution. Madeleine tried to resist but she had to pay the cost by losing an eye. After that her life becomes an endless cycle of misery with the exception being on Monday, her only day off.

Eventually Madeleine's hatred at Tony and his customers starts to build. She starts taking training lessons for ultimate revenge.

Armed with a shotgun, she goes about executing those who wronged her.

While the plot may sound simple by today's standards, the film stands out because of its graphic sex scenes. Thriller could be described as an exploitation film appropriate for a grind-house double bill. The 1974 film would have stayed hidden from the World if not for Quentin Tarantino who mentioned that he modeled the Daryl Hannah character in Kill Bill after Christina Lindberg's Madeleine character from Thriller. In fact, the shrill background noise in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman's character eyes an opponent is also influenced from this Swedish film. The violence in Thriller is tame as all the killings are shown in slow-motion and appear more comic than gory. Although there is an act of uncomfortable cruelty when Madeleine is turned into a pirate by Tony -- the point of view camera shows Tony's razor heading closely towards Madeleine's left eye until the camera pulls back to show a scene more graphic than the razor-meets-eye scene from Luis Buñuel Un chien andalou.

Overall, the 12th film from the Euro festival is certainly a shock to the system compared to the other features.

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