592. Virile Games – Jan Svankmajer

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SUMMARY: A man settles down in his flat to watch a football match. But the rules seem to have changed, with points being scored for how much damage players can do to their opponent’s faces.

WHY IT’S HERE: Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Virile Games’ is one of the director’s most overtly comedic film but also one of his most graphically violent. A critique of violence in football culture, Svankmajer combines stock footage of football fans with Gilliam-esque cutout animation, but the main draw of ‘Virile Games’ is the grotesque stop motion clay animation. Periodically during the game, we zoom in to close ups of the players’ faces, which are then inventively and irreparably dismembered by their opponents. These grisly mutilations become funnier the more extreme and ridiculous they get. Svankmajer’s serious point about the damaging nature of violence in sport and the role the fans play in exacerbating this is made clear by the film’s final image but the moral feels secondary to the fun Svankmajer is having in satirising the violence itself. Definitely not for those without a strong stomach and a dark sense of humour, ‘Virile Games’ is another Svankmajer classic.

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