Director Michael Winterbottom defends film’s extreme violence
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 that Stanley Kubrick famously described as "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I've ever encountered", 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 imagination.
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."
He defended the film from the mounting charges that it is misogynistic because the violence is directed at women by saying that the character who carries it out is weak and not a hero to be looked up to.
"To say it's misogynistic is tricky. Anyone who says that is watching it in a very perverse way. Clearly there is violence against men and women in society, in films and books, and in this case I think it's important that the violence is ugly. No one can watch it and believe that Lou Ford is a role model or a glamorous guy you'd want to be like, or that beating up women is a good thing."
The Killer Inside Me tells the story of a respected Texan deputy chief of police who has a secret liking of sadomasochistic sex and who, because of a troubled childhood, demonstrates a destructive streak to those he loves and towards himself.
Winterbottom, a favourite of the festival who has won prizes before for The Road to Guantánamo and In This World, 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.
Winterbottom said: "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."
He said he had been inspired to make his first foray into the film noir genre by the novel, which "stayed with me for a long time and made me think about the way we behave. It's very Shakespearean, very shocking and pushes everything to the extreme and I wanted to make a film that was a very literal version of the book".
Source: Guardian Online