Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tod Browning's Freaks (1932): A humanist masterpiece

Tod Browning's Freaks is a humanist masterpiece that leaves you thinking and in awe its compassion and craft.

Browning has you first appalled with a confronting directness that borders on exploitation, yet all the while he builds compassion and a criminal solidarity through empathy. He makes you complicit in terrible acts of revenge - not withstanding the tacked-on studio-imposed closed romantic ending, which perversely reinforces the darkness of the deeds by rewarding vengeance. Indeed the expressionist climax is as dark as any noir from ten years down the track.