Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BEEM, 6th place: Schramm

[Best Editing in an Exploitation Movie Award]

"Today I am dirty, but tomorrow I'll be just dirt"

German auteur Jörge Buttgereit abandoned low-budget filmmaking after his fourth feature, Schramm, 1993. He burst onto the underground gore scene in 1987 with his classic ode to necrophilia, Nekromantik, following it with a sequel and the unique Der Todesking. His films are distinctively "gore" (or, even, "experimental") rather than "horror"; Buttgereit disdains the cliched strategies for building tension with music and editing which have become standards in "horror" since Psycho for a truly "'romantic" approach featuring ponderous, emotive musical themes and voyeuristic, non-judgmental camera work.

Schramm follows the final days of a serial killer ("Schramm") as he drives his taxi, lusts after his prostitute neighbor, kills Jehovah's Witnesses, masturbates, hallucinates, and paints his ceiling. Technically, this is Buttgereit's most advanced work, representing the culmination of years of experience in no-budget cinema. The camera-work is extremely inventive, employing custom built rigs to achieve unique spinning and rotating shots. The timeline of the story is labyrinthian, beginning with the moment just after Schramm's death and bouncing back and forth chaotically around the same sequence of events, each time portraying them in a new order and aspect. Slow motion, (apparently) archival footage, and sparse (but graphic) effects are used to great advantage. As a story, there's barely anything to Schramm at all. Rather, it is the editing which churns a relatively simple (and repugnant) sequence of events into a meditative swan-song for the humanity of even the lowest and most despicable members of the species.

the trailer for Schramm:

memorable editing moment: Immediately following the title sequence we see a close-up of the floor spattered with white paint. Panning slowly (to thundering synth strings) we see first spatters of blood mixed with the paint, and then the body of Schramm, fallen from his stepladder (while painting). (All this intercut with legs running a marathon in slow motion.) Next spinning and backward images of the body and the fall intercut, the fall (in reverse) of a leg prosthesis. We hear a knocking on the door and cut to the (realtime) image of his neighbor knocking. Next, in rapid succession: Schramm openning the door to the Jehovah's witnesses (hours earlier), Schramm openning the door to his neighbor (days earlier), pan over Schramm's realtime corpse with knocking, Schramm painting (minutes earlier), doorbell and openning the door to the Jehoavah's Witnesses (hours earlier, but this time we continue to follow their interactions with Schramm). The dizzying array of temporal permutations continues for the rest of the film (albeit at a somewhat slower pace), building a tapestry of meaning around the "senseless" violence of Schramm's acts.

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