Attenberg (2010)

Attendberg of Athina Rachel Tsangari is one of those symbolic films that you either understand and adore or you hate! It is a daring comment on the way our society treats the sexuality of the individual as well as the reality that all our beloved will die sooner of later.

As in other symbolic films, below, you may find my interpretation on the meaning of the film. You may want to see the film first and then read it. This time, I will not hide the text 🙂 I am just leaving some space…

My rating: 08/10

On the opening scene of the movie (as well as may others that follow), the ‘experienced’ female tries to teach the ‘inexperienced’ one, how to kiss: a series of lip contacts and touches of the tongue that are so unnatural  and awkward that are repulsive, followed by the verbal instruction: you must remember to … breath! A double comment on  what happens in our society in the first three minutes of the film.

First, how many of us, forget to breath in a relationship?

Second, although our sexuality is a vital need of our body, of our self, in order for us to be balanced as individuals, we (usually) teach our children nothing about it.  No one has done it for us and it is very difficult to invent the method of doing it effectively. Our educational system is doing next to nothing to provide the most basic truth to all of us: wanting to make love with the opposite sex is equally natural with wanting to eat or drink.

So, we rely for information to our friends that are supposed to be more … experts that we are! Friends that have the same age and problems! Or try to get information by looking at documentaries about … other animals (e.g. the series by  Sir David Frederick Attenborough – Attendberg?!) .

Sexual attraction is a tabu that is not discussed in the family.  The father says to his daughter that she should be ashamed, even thinking of him being naked. It is ‘inappropriate’ for a child to think of its parent as a member of the opposite sex. That is why Marina initially tells her father that she thinks of him as a man without a penis.  It is perfectly natural for father and daughter to eat together, but not to talk about  their sexuality.

So, Marina (and her friend) uses any other tool she has to explore and understand the mystery of sex attraction. They mimic the behavior of different animals in the yard, making silly walks and moves to attract the males. They practice in showing hostility and aggressiveness as any animal does when fighting for a mate!

When Marina takes the big decision to make love with the engineer, she must discover everything from the beginning.  She has to figure out how to seduce the male – she totally undresses herself in a minute, she moves her shoulder blades in an attempt to do so! She tries to understand the language of the body using the language of the brain, i.e. the discussion, to the point where every desire of her boyfriend is killed. But most of all, making love as an expression of love, is not realized until her father is ready to die. It is then when she proposes to her friend to sleep with her father, as an act of love, it is then, that she manages for the first time to make love with her boyfriend.

Another line of the film addresses death and they way we deal with it. The absurdity of not being able for one to decide to be cremated, the inhumanity and exploitation of the hospitals (but we did not watch any satellite TV!), the luxury of the coffins vs. the wooden box they put the body to ship it abroad for cremation etc. On top of that the desperation of the parent that rushes to arrange every issue, asking his daughter to face the situation but calling her the same way as she was a baby…

The closing scene is equally devastating: a land massacred by machines, unattractive and ugly, resembling to the alienated people who created it.

A symbolic film has the power to convey much more meaning is a very short time frame (provided it is understood of course).  There are a lot more scenes in the movie than mentioned here. Hope I gave some highlights 🙂

1 Comment

  1. I saw the film and neither loved it, nor hated it. It gives an unusual perspective at least for those who have not seen Dogtooth (Kynodontas), as I haven’t. Your review was interesting, you read more into this film than I did. I wou ld not give it such a high rating, because it had no emotional appeal to me, it did not touch me at any level, I saw it only as an intellectual exercise. Still, I would recommend it, as it definitely is out of the ordinary.

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