Princess DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Palisades Tartan
This is fun, August. – Christina
Directed by Anders Morgenthaler
Written by Anders Morgenthaler and Mette Heeno
2006, Region 1 (NTSC), 90 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on September 29th, 2009
Thure Lindhard as August (voice)
Stine Fischer Christensen as Christina (voice)
Tommy Kenter as Preben (voice)
Soren Lenander as Sonny (voice)
Christian Tafdrup as Charlie
Margrethe Koytu as Karen (voice)
I’m not a fan of animation. It’s not that I hate it; I just never got into it. So when Princess arrived on my doorstep for review, it was bitter sweet. The back of the box describes it as a revenge flick where August, the main character, “…goes on a rampage to avenge his sister’s death and brings her small daughter with him.” (AWESOME!), it is released by Palisades Tartan (SWEET!) and it’s animated (yay). I’m a guy that wants to see real blood (or as real as film will allow) as opposed to cartoon ink. Fortunately, this film blew away all of my expectations, and within the first five minutes, I was hooked.
When a film opens with a priest walking onto a porn film set, seeing a woman being tag teamed by two men, you are taken aback. When the woman getting stuffed is pregnant, you squirm a little (unless, of course, that’s your deal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.). Oh, and she’s the priest’s sister. What. The. Fuck. This is the opening scene, people. And you say to yourself, how much more perverted can this get? The answer is much more.
The credits roll, and five years later August is removing his niece from a brothel to live with him. His sister, Mia (aka “The Princess”), has died and August obviously feels that the child, Christina, is better off with him. As one can imagine, Christina has seen a lot of things a five-year-old has no business seeing, and has been put through abuse that no child deserves. When August inevitably learns of the horrors this kid has lived through, he takes it upon himself to not just to avenge Christina, but also to ensure that Mia’s movies will no longer be produced, sold or seen by anyone again. A big job, certainly, but August is up to the task, and he starts his journey of systematically destroying those who destroyed his sister’s life, working his way up to Charlie, the man who deemed Mia “The Princess” and got her on the road to whoredom. And he does all this with Christina in tow.
If this were a straight exploitation revenge flick à la Death Wish or Savage Streets, it would have been an incredibly entertaining film to watch, but Princess has an emotional depth to it that just makes you feel scummy watching it. It’s the type of film that makes you want to shower after it’s over because Christina’s story is so traumatizing. Each subsequent reveal of her life is worse than the last, and things don’t ever get better. Even as August and Christina brutally take care of those who wronged either the child or the mother, it’s a hollow satisfaction for the viewer because whatever pain the antagonists feel, it’s not enough.
A huge credit to Princess being much more than a simple revenge movie is the direction of Anders Morgenthaler. Princess is a very quiet movie (think The Good Shepherd) where voices are seldom raised and when they are there is more of an impact. There is emotion when people talk, but it’s all done in a conversational nonchalance, like when August is told his sister’s atrocious graveside memorial (complete with a ring of fifteen-foot cocks) will not be removed, he simply replies with simply, "Okay, then I will.” No drama, no fanfare, and he handles it like he's been handling everything else: With much destruction.
Morgenthaler’s decision to mix animation with sprinkles of live action during the film makes the movie feel more real than it probably should. He brings in the live action in the form of a box of videotapes that August watches throughout the movie. Since the videotapes were recorded by August before and right up to when Mia became “The Princess”, the scenes add a little realism to the movie, as well as allowing the viewer to get to know Mia and support August’s quest even more.
If there’s one slight problem with the film, it is the last two minutes of the movie. Without spoiling anything, it feels a bit hokey and a tad contrived compared to the tone of everything that precedes it. I can completely understand why the filmmakers went the route they went, and to some degree I can almost agree with it. However, I felt a little cheated as it’s somewhat of a cop-out due to everything that came before.
Yet, even with that, Princess is still one of the most powerful films I’ve seen this year, and I highly, highly, highly recommend it. I feel dirty doing so because it’s so unapologetically merciless, but that’s what makes it great. Buy it now.
Video and Audio:
Princess’s 2:35:1 anamorphic presentation is blemish free. Colors don’t jump out, and they aren’t supposed to. It has a drab quality to it that is no doubt intentional, as this is not a happy movie.
The 5.1 Danish soundtrack sounds great. The sides and rears are adequately used, with an appropriate bass response when needed. While this isn’t a demo disc (and it doesn’t attempt to be), it’s an excellent-sounding DVD.
Dolby Digital 2.0 and English subtitles are also offered.
Sadly, only the theatrical trailer is offered. I would have loved to have heard a director’s commentary.
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