This deliciously subversive, beautifully photographed film by award-winning Russian director Alexei Balabanov explores the seamy underside of the early 20th century upper classes. The sinister Johann and his wicked assista... more »nt, who photograph the floggings of bare-bottomed women, maneuver their way into two well-to-do families, involving them in their pornographic schemes. Darkly humorous and startlingly original, this compelling tale reveals the manipulation and revenge, hidden passions and sadomasochistic urges, underlying the charm and propriety of Victorian society. Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival.« less
"OF FREAKS AND MEN is a constantly interesting story and film-------very well photographed---------about a strange, psychopathic pornographer who makes movies of women being whipped by a "nanny" for the underground market at the turn of the century. The film is shot in a sepia tone to give a nice authenticity to the proceedings. If you've seen photographs from the fin-de-siecle, you realize what marvelous recreations of those romantic-------though risqué--------photographs the filmmakers have achieved. Many of them look very much like the photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron----------one of the finest photographers working after the Civil War, who specialized in photographing women in dream like, highly romantic, almost spiritual scenes. She never did photos like this, of course, but the same care was taken in the art direction of this film. But most interesting of all is the psychological workings of the minds of the very respectable middle class characters who find themselves drawn to this seedy business against their wills, but are quite willing to pursue their newfound inner freedom after the pornographer has left. This is one of Image Entertainment's most artistic releases for 2001. More please. Jay F."
Of Freaks And Men
040787 | Liverpool | 10/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of Freaks and men is a an astonsihing and powerful film. The first time i saw it, i thought the location and the way it was filmed was just mesmorising. The camera techniques the director performs really mix well with the emotional parts, and the comedic parts. The fact that it was filmed in one distinct colour really puts the cherry on the cake for this film. Each cast member gives a powerful, but realistic performance in this fantastic story. Of Freaks And Men is really a tale to engage into."
Very well-filmed movie
Lena Baranova | Moscow, Russia | 11/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Indeed - very well-done. The action takes place in Saint-Petersburg in the beginning of the XX century - to attract viewers attention to the time depicting, the director films it in yellowish colours - not in black and white, and taking into consideration the plot of the movie, this colour scheme brings the feeling of something which is not normal, crazy and strange. Sergey Makovetskiy (leading part) acts brilliantly - as good as in no other of his movies."
Art vs Immorality
zoe11111 | Maryland , USA | 03/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No matter how disgusted one is with what you see in this film, if you watch it till the end, you are an accomplice. You have no choice but to be uttely fascinated by its bizzare beauty and stylish atmosphere. Amazing cinematography combined with melancholic music. You will never find this film at your local ...video [store] so buy it now and join the darker side of human beings."
"Let That Be A Lesson to You!"
ruzzante | UK | 06/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed in the golden-sepia color of an early talkie-movie, Of Freaks and Men, a 1998 movie, has a measured pace, angelic music, and a story line that assaults every sensitivity before offering reprieve.
Basically, this is a cyclic bourgeoisie/neo-bourgeoisie tale. The principal characters on the bourgeoisie side are the charming innocents: Leeza, the Freaks (Siamese-twin boys with angelic voices and personalities), and their adopting mother, the blind Yekaterina. These people are humiliatingly defiled and commercially exploited by the murderous Johann and his kin/cohorts Grunya and Viktor.
An emphasis on camera and phonograph (commercial tools) and the money exchanged between accomplices-in-crime i.e. cameraman and director (and paying audiences!) allows Of Freaks and Men to be viewed as a critique of the divisive/exploitative dehumanization that monopolistic capitalism can sickeningly produce. Yet, there's greater ambiguity and depth to this movie than that.
Most rewarding, arguably,(when considering how individuals move in this tale from closed/protected family/societal status to the opening-out vulnerable-and-being-hurt but self-developing status) is to view this drama as an innocence-to-experience tale which then moves forward to dramatize the even more mysterious and more demanding phase of life when a person rationally chooses to re-experience abuses until forgiveness offers understanding, deliverance, redemption, and, eventually, full and compassionate personal freedom. There are many views to consider though ... that's the joy of true cinematic art!
The DVD has no extras other than on/off subtitles and scene selection. There's no information about the director, cast or additional movies! Nevertheless, disappointments aside, this fearlessly profane morality/redemption tale still merits 5 stars!"