It’s one thing to give your movie a title as sweepingly ambitious as On Body and Soul, but quite another to deliver something equally transcendent. With this competition entry from Hungary, we saw some encouraging signs of artistic experimentation on the first full day of the Berlin Film Festival that’s sorely missing from the opening night presentation, but a home-run is still elusive.
The film opens with shots of two deer roaming, gently grazing against each other in a snow-capped forest. It’s a lovely sight not just for the natural grandeur and inherent serenity of wildlife, but also the camera’s intense focus, describing the texture and temperature of the scene in great detail. This quietly evocative introduction, which would prove to be a recurring theme and much more than mere decoration, leads to a montage of animals in captivity, waiting to be butchered and men, resting blissfully on top of the food chain.
The purpose of the striking imagery reveals itself when we learn that the story is set at an industrialized slaughterhouse, where every day livestock is transported gets killed, skinned, prepared for consumption.
Featuring a — literally — dreamy central conceit and lots of clever packaging, On Body and Soul seduces, distracts, intrigues, but ultimately doesn’t pack the visceral, spiritual impact that one might expect.
On Body and Soul premiered at Berlin Film Festival.
Berlin Film Festival 2017 official page: https://www.berlinale.de/en/das_festival/festivalprofil/profil_der_berlinale/index.html
Link to Hungarian Film Database: http://www.mafab.hu/movies/a-testrol-es-lelekrol-291242.html