Peccadillo Pictures Presents THE SAMURAI On DVD & On-Demand: 13th April 2015

sam1Peccadillo Pictures Presents
THE SAMURAI

On the edge of a dark forest, where the fear of wolves prevents locals from straying too far from home, a young police officer, Jakob receives a package addressed to the ‘Lone Wolf’. As the night shift starts a mysterious caller claims the package belongs to him. Venturing out alone, Jakob unknowingly delivers a samurai sword to a wild-eyed man in a wedding dress, who entices him to participate in a bloody crusade through the village.

As night wanes something hidden is unleashed to meet the first rays of daylight…

Till Kleinert’s genre debut pulsates with relentless intensity, The Samurai is a daring, outrageous and fascinating journey into the sexual heart of darkness.

On DVD & On-Demand: 13th April 2015
Country: GERMAN / Duration: 79 MINS / Language: GERMAN /
Subtitles: ENGLISH / Cert: 18tbc / RRP: £15.99
Extra Features: UK Exclusive Interview with Director & Cast (More TBC)

UK Trailer:

DIRECTOR’S NOTE – TILL KLEINERT

THE SAMURAI is a thriller that gradually shifts into nightmare territory as it progresses. The reality of a standard police procedure becomes derailed and overshadowed by the anarchic and irrational world that the Samurai inhabits. Jakob’s ever-growing exhaustion bridges the shift in key; from a certain point on, the film itself seems to take place in that grey area between being awake and dreaming. Even the excessive violence, in which the Samurai’s frenzy eventually breaks loose, though bloody and shocking, has a strangely aloof and almost unreal quality within the context of the narrative.

The night brings forward the convergence between hunter and hunted; they are connected by the invisible bond felt by those who are awake while everybody else is sleeping. But there is a connection that runs deeper. Trying to keep the wolf away from the houses, yet, out of a sentiment unexplainable even to himself, unwilling to completely scare it away, Jakob has secretly been feeding it for weeks. It was the smell of the raw meat that has lured the Samurai out of the dark. The Samurai’s origin remains a mystery until the end. One could come to the conclusion that he has emerged from the woods as an incarnation of Jakob’s fear of losing control, summoned by is unacknowledged sexual desires; a shadow whose sole mission seems to be to gleefully unhinge Jakob’s small and orderly world and turn it on its head.

Yet, as frightening as that prospect might seem, it contains an appeal Jakob finds harder and harder to resist as the night progresses. The Samurai is an agent of the unconscious and the repressed, a messiah preaching the liberation of one’s wild impulses by the means of the sword; and the more doggedly Jakob tries to defend his self-image against this philosophy of chaos, the more the subliminal urge to take the gift of his opponent, to give in and relish in his transgression, grows. Together with Jakob we eventually cross the line of the familiar and the morally safe, entering uncharted territory. No one can say how high the price we have to pay for that transgression will be. Only one thing is certain: at the end of the night we will not be the same.

sam2THE PLACE

Set and shot in a reclusive, rural East German area close to the Polish border, THE SAMURAI will be rich in local flavour, yet at the same time its themes and aesthetics relate to a larger, archetypical pool of motifs. The dense dark forest locations and uncanny encounters with the dark side of the self, originate from an abundant matrix of Grimm Fairy Tales, German Gothic Romanticism and Jungian psycho-analysis.

Although there is a long tradition of grim and psychological horror in German literature, sadly there are very few contemporary German filmmakers to mine it. Thus, THE SAMURAI also deviates from the muted, self-important pseudo-realism that has become the prevailing language of German Cinema today, going on to direct its own course on an adrenaline rush adventure that encounters the bizarre and the fantastically absurd.

sam3GENRE

As the name of the genre suggests, first and foremost, a thriller should thrill the audience. While the ‘serious’ genres usually approach phenomena like violence and mental distress from a rational meaning point of view, the thriller puts us right onto the battlefield. Giving up a clear moral vantage point in favour of effect, it allows us to relish in the thrill of fear. Often enough our perspective watching a thriller is ambiguous, alternating in an almost sadomasochistic minefield between the victim’s and the perpetrator’s points of view. We are as much in danger of being eaten by Hannibal Lecter as we are witnesses and accomplices to his deeds – thus exploring our own destructive and anti-social impulses in the safe framework of watching a film.

You can’t get much closer to ‘evil’ than you can when watching a thriller. In an enlightened age, thrillers and horror films are the last resort of the monstrous and the irrational in cinema. In those genres the unconscious, which in spite of all our wishes to control things still has such an enormous influence on our lives.

TILL KLEINERT – Writer, Director & Editor

From an early age Till was fascinated with visual storytelling, drew comics in his teens and at the age of fifteen started to make animated and live action video films with a group of friends. After finishing high school he wrote and directed several shorts before he started studying at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB) in 2004. The short films he made during his studies, Hundefutter (2007), Cowboy (2008), Kokon (2009) and Boys Village (2011) have played successfully at many film festivals, including the German Fantasy Film Fest, the Leopards of Tomorrow section in Locarno and the Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, and won several awards, most notably the German Academy Short Film Award for Kokon in 2009.

Thematically his films so far have been concerned with rites of passage and the liberation from self-inflicted constraints. There is a strong current of atmospheric storytelling running through his films, as well as a fascination with the uncanny and the horrific.

Kleinert is part of the filmmaker’s collective Schattenkante.

sam4CAST

JACOB Michel Diercks
SAMURAI Pit Bukowski
HORVATH Uwe Preuss
GRANDMA Ulrike Hanke-Hänsch
KARO Kaja Blachnik

CREW

PRODUCTION Schattenkante GbR & German Film and Television Academy Berlin GmbH (dffb)
WRITER, DIRECTOR, EDITOR Till Kleinert
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY Martin Hanslmayr
PRODUCER Anna de Paoli
PRODUCTION MANAGER Jolanka Höhn
SET DESIGNER Tomoko Okada & Sandra Fleischer
COSTUME DESIGN Malena Modéer & Vivien Waneck
MAKE-UP ARTIST Sophie Ilg & Jenny Marolf

Der Samurai (2014) Review

DS1 (1)Der Samurai (2014)

Dir: Till Kleinert

Written by: Till Kleinert

Starring: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uwe Preuss, Kaja Blanchnik, Christopher Kane

Running Time – 80 mins.

UK Première: Frightfest 2014

Small town policeman, Jakob (Diercks), is dealing with a wolf terrorising the town when he receives a mysterious package. When he goes to deliver it, he discovers a man wearing a white dress and lipstick, hiding in an abandoned house. The package contains a samurai sword and Jakob soon finds himself in a disturbing battle of wits against The Samurai (Bukowski).

With the striking image of a man dressed in a wedding dress and brandishing a samurai sword on its poster, Der Samurai instantly has your attention as to just what on earth such a film could be like or even about. To go into any great detail regarding the plot would be equivalent to revealing the method of a magic trick, director, Till Kleinert, has created something truly unique and very special here. If ever there was a film that needs to be experienced rather than just seen, it’s Der Samurai.

The action all takes place of the course of one night in real time and it is astounding just how much ground is covered of varying subjects and ideas throughout. Embracing a Brothers Grimm style, this twisted fairytale can be said to embody a perfect representation of discipline fighting against chaos as well as the Cherokee legend of the two warring wolves that lie inside every man. To be blunt, the film is evocative of David Lynch if he had directed The Dark Knight.

DS2Kleinert has stated that he took experience from passing sleepy European towns on the train and wondering what mysteries they concealed. The sense of a compact small town creates a wonderfully claustrophobic atmosphere, everyone seems to know everyone and their business and anything that breaks away from the normality of their existence is regarded with deep suspicion and disdain. This is where the homoerotic subtext to the film really comes to the fore in terms of getting a better understanding of the lead character in Jakob and how he is regarded by the townspeople.

Diercks plays Jakob fantastically as a mild-mannered and fundamentally good guy, caring for his dementia-suffering grandmother, who finds himself repressed, isolated and frustrated at the small town rigid mindset shared by seemingly all except him. From his interactions with the other townspeople, it is evident that he is marginalised for being different and not fitting in with their behaviour. This is slowly revealed to be as a result of his unsure sexuality which is only truly brought out of him come the arrival of the Samurai, his polar opposite of character. It is fascinating and so well captured in his performance that the audience sees Jakob desperately attempting to upholding the law and order but is constantly dropping his guard to the Samurai’s magnetism. He is so enticed by the excitement of the danger of the unknown and the break from convention that the Samurai represents to him. He is given so many chances to stop the Samurai and yet he doesn’t. The film is almost capturing his proper awakening into deciding on what sort of person he really is which is both haunting and unshakably engaging.

DS3Kleinert is so expert at showing and not telling with his characters. A great deal of character development and history is done solely through allusion and subtext. Certain tweaks in the character’s behaviour or even simple surrounding objects are given huge significance to delving a little deeper into a film that has so much rich intrigue beneath the surface.

To perfectly counter-balance Diercks more restrained performance, Bukowski’s nameless Samurai is a limitless battery of danger and unpredictability. He is never once given any back story and no logic is ever really given to his actions, he is pure and simply a bold agent of chaos set to shake the foundations of the sleepy town to its core. When the camera zooms in on his menacing features, it is often difficult to not look away in simple intimidation at how powerful and threatening a force of nature his character is. Not once do the audience ever feel safe in his presence and yet, much like Jakob, it is impossible to not be drawn into his frightening erotic dynamism. Perhaps the greatest facet of Bukowski’s performance, is the fact that is able to make the initially risible image of a man in a wedding dress and makeup holding a samurai sword so terrifying with his wolf-like predatory instinct.

The visual presentation of the film is nothing short of breathtaking. The camera has a beautiful haze-like quality and liberally uses harsh red lighting that further presses the idea home that this is all somehow magical and possibly, isn’t real. Amongst the film’s many stand-out sequences include a brutal bloodshed viewed from a fascinatingly bizarre upside-down angle, a hugely Twin Peaks-eqsue club scene and a gorgeous shot of the police car headlights. The lights are barely visible through an impenetrable mist and surrounded by the dense forest that hides so many secrets and mysteries.

DS4There are images that are forever burnt onto the retinas of those who see the film and the impact endures. The iconic image of the Samurai himself is matched with a beautiful near final shot of blood splattering combined with fireworks, the twisted grin of the Samurai as a post-credits extra and the hypnotic and surreal dance the leads perform by a bonfire surrounded by corpses. The violence is often highly extreme and yet pulled off with astounding grace and flair without ever showing off.

An intoxicating, darkly erotic nightmare with two incredible lead performances that balance out as a perfect ying/yang partnership. Pure European Marmite cinema that’s certain to leave many completely cold whilst others are utterly enraptured and haunted by it.

Rating: 10/10