From director Wiktor Grodecki (Mandragora) this startling and disturbing feature is a graphic insider's view of the seedy but burgeoning East Europe industry that trades nubile young men. The film introduces us to one of ... more »the adults (now jailed) who exploits Prague's youth; the city's police coroner and prolific porn director named Pavel. Told with unflinching honesty, Body Without Soul provides an explicit view of the exploitation, pain , and pitiful existence of young men who, out of necessity, sell their bodies to survive. The camera follows the young men as they walk the streets, work on porno shoots, hustle for money, and talk abut their emotions, bodies, sexual preferences and fear of AIDS, their hopes and demons.« less
"Some are ugly, some are attractive; some use drugs, some do not; some are stupid, some are average, some are smart. And all of them are teenage male prostitutes working the streets of Prague. Their clients consist largely of German, Swiss, and Dutch tourists in search of cheap sex--and for additional income they make pornos on the side. And along the way they are ripped off, abused, and degraded until they simply wear out.Wiktor Grodecki's documentary BODY WITHOUT SOUL is a dark and disturbing look at life on the streets of Prague. The film consists of interviews with a dozen or so teenagers describing how they first began on the streets, how they drifted into prostitution and pornography. Some of the subjects seemed drugged; others are surprisingly articulate. The centerpiece of the film, however, is an extended interview with a pornographic film director who at first attempts to gloss over the unsavory aspects of his work--and who ends by unintentionally revealing just how vicious he actually is. The pornographer is also a pathologist, and the camera follows him into the autopsy room and films him at work. Grodecki then intercuts these scenes with scenes of him directing his latest film, thus making the point that these boys are no more to those who use them than so much meat.Although it is exceptionally well done, I would hesitate to recommend BODY WITHOUT SOUL to a casual viewer. It is a moving film, a powerful testament re the old, old story of man's inhumanity to man... But many will find the autopsy scenes repulsive beyond their toleration, and I cannot imagine that many will watch the film more than once. Recommended, but as a rental rather than a purchase."
Descent Into Evil
Brian Demma | Pakkret, Nonthaburi Thailand | 04/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the most harrowing films I've ever seen about the issue of teenage boy prostitution, though not as affecting as the director's next film, Mandragora. As one who knows Prague well, I can say that the situation is quite realistic, as long as one keeps in mind that the director is dealing with boys at the very lowest end of the prostitution spectrum and therefore those most prone to abuse. The heart of the film is the interview with the Czech porn film director, a true descent into evil that chills one to the bone. One of the boys interviewed in the film made it into the director's Mandragora in a starring role. He made quite an impression as an actor and was widely praised in the Czech press, so let us hope he has continued in his acting career. The Czech press was quite harsh in its evaluation of all the films of this director dealing with boy prostition in Prague, accusing him of sensationalism and gratuitious nudity, an ironic criticism for films dealing with sex exploitation. Nonetheless, the film is a landmark study of the terrible risks faced by young, poor teenage boys entering the sex trade in Prague."
archersf | San Francisco, CA USA | 07/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most truly despairing documentaries ever filmed, this film chronicles the cruel exploitation and empty lives of Eastern European teenage hustlers. The boys are allowed to simply speak to the camera, and their stories are harrowing and unflinching. Their narratives are intercut with an astonishingly frank interview with a director of teen porn films, who eagerly recounts his abusive methods for soliciting performances while carving up cadavers in his part-time job as coroner. The documentary has a very cool feel to it... it's a gritty, unemotional glimpse at this slice of life. White-on-white subtitles are somewhat difficult to read, and music is slightly intrusive."
A Brutally Powerful Documentary: Wiktor Grodecki's Precursor
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wiktor Grodecki is a brave filmmaker, one who is unafraid to address a controversial subject, yet one who is able to make a powerful sociologic statement by creating a metaphorical art film that demands respect.
Grodecki interviews young boys (ages 14 - 17) who are male hustlers in Prague: he wisely removes (for the most part) the interviewer questions allowing the individual boys to make spontaneous, searing comments. These young lads discuss why they became male prostitutes, how they deal with selling their bodies, where they find their business (the train station, the swimming pools, etc), how they feel about the johns and about their fellow hustlers, the manner in which they do business including the way in which the financial aspects come to play - all in a way that burns the faces of these young lads into our psyches.
About half way through this film Grodecki introduces Pavel Rousek, a man who by day is a pathologist performing autopsies in the Prague morgue and in his off hours (using the pseudonym Hans Miller) creates, casts and directs gay porno videos in his home. Rousek is shown at the autopsy table gowning, gloving, and grotesquely performing an autopsy on a real cadaver while discussing both professions. There are moments while he is gloving that he explains why he doesn't allow his boys to wear condoms (the buyers of his videos don't want to see condoms), and the contrast between his self protection vs the enforcement of prevention of sexual protection of his actors is devastating.
Rousek as Miller is then shown filming the boys in his home, explaining the details of achieving the visual effects of pornography: simultaneously we again hear the boys views of that aspect of their 'careers', creating a pitiful tension. There is almost no total nudity in this film and when it does occur the lighting is so dark as to obscure it - making the overall effect even more dense and effectively tense. Under all of this lurid talk Grodecki uses classical music - Albinoni, Mahler, Mozart - which again provides a contradiction that makes the topic digestible.
The final question Grodecki poses to his subjects involves the boys perception of 'soul' and while there is a variety of responses, the overall message is that these lads sell their bodies as a career, but the soul is 'what you think', something that cannot be taken from you. Several of these boys have screen presence and faces that, were they noticed by regular film makers, would probably give them legitimate careers. But the power of the film comes from the words of these boys, knowing completely their choice of life, and therein lies the sorrow.
This is a tough but very fine piece of filmmaking. Interestingly, Grodecki absorbed this material and used it to create his subsequent feature film MANDRAGORA (reviewed under that title). This film is the more powerful of the two. Not a movie for everyone, but certainly an important document about a way of life few know and fewer understand. Grady Harp, September 05
Jason Troy | USA | 06/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Wiktor Grodecki's Body Without Soul invites the courageous to the prequel of his sensationally dark film, Mandragora. This graphic film depicts the appalling process by which young prepubescence and teen age boys in Prague are so skillfully lured into the eviscerated life of a male prostitute. Candid interviews with both predators and victims alike allow the visitor to observe how deftly and skillfully an unsympathetic pimp/promoter/and oftentimes executioner, can entice, convince and then blackmail his victims into becoming porn stars. Systemic of a life of poverty, the boys recall how easily they and their peers became street hustlers. Converging at a well-known swimming pool in the city, unsuspecting victims are attracted by the promise of money, and too often find themselves defending the tragic lifestyle of the walking dead. This film is not for the faint-hearted, but rather for those wishing to obtain the remnants of humanity on the verge of self-destruction.