A repeatable crime .. “Nitram” is a movie that chronicles a massacre that occurred 25 years ago | art

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When the film was announced, it was rejected, and there were fears that it would glorify a killer, or portray him as a sympathizer.

It can no longer be said that films should not challenge or alarm, or should not delve into the darkest of subjects, after a long history of using cinema to expose the worst crimes, through numerous films about genocide, and countless chilling scenes The Bodies, up to this “disturbing film, like a poem with a very disturbing tone”, as film critic Luke Buckmaster described.

It’s “Nitram” by Australian writer Sean Grant, and always controversial Australian director Justin Kurzel, especially when he decides to explore the circumstances of an incomprehensible shocking event, and puts us in the atmosphere that preceded it. Port Arthur massacre In Tasmania in 1996, in which 35 people were killed and 23 injured, in an attempt to understand why and how it happened.

Denying the offender

The film is primarily concerned with exploring the depths of the character of Martin Bryant, who committed the worst massacre in Australian history, which explains Grant’s keenness to build the narrative “in a very conscious and non-educational way, rejecting easy answers, and giving a strange and turbulent sense to events,” as Buckmaster says. . This is because he realizes the value of each sequence that leads to an understanding of the tragedy.

In an early example of this approach, we see the gunman (played by American star Caleb Landry Jones), the only one who is never mentioned in the film, as a modern style of director Kurzel, intended to deny the existence of the perpetrator because of his bad reputation; He himself was denying himself; On one occasion he told his mother, “Sometimes I watch myself and I don’t know who I am looking at.”

Trying to surf, his mother (Australian star Judy Davis) repeats, “I’m your mom, I love you, but surfing isn’t for you.”

Which makes the viewer wonder about the special significance of this scene, which can be compared to the age-old question of whether Hitler’s life and thus the course of human history would run differently if he was accepted into art school? By the same logic: Would things have gone down the path of tragedy if the boy’s mother had encouraged him to succeed in surfing?

The answer is that although both writer Grant and director Kurzel know that the protagonist suffers from mental health problems and takes antidepressants, they are not using this to justify or explain his actions, but rather they are keen to show that he had important people in his life in the period before carnage, before leaning toward the edge; They are his shy father (Anthony Lapaglia) and his wealthy girlfriend (Issie Davis).

A panorama of unadorned scenes

Once the movie was announced – which “contained relentless testing for part of the darkest period in Australian criminal history”, says Allison Taylor, a film studies specialist at Australian Bond University – it was rejected, and fears prevailed that it would glorify a killer, or portray him as sympathetic.

However, the film focused on what preceded the massacre, rather than the massacre itself, to depict a young man who was a childish outcast, and became unable to regulate his emotions, or integrate into the society around him, until his parents got used to his deviant behavior over the years.

As much as Kurzel showed the butcher as a belittling pariah, he did not say that his actions constituted a compulsive rebellion against society, and he preferred to refute the idea that something had happened to him from his childhood, and was profoundly wrong. He resisted the idea of ​​a “devil child”, in which similar films used to present the hero as a pure villain.

In one of the film’s most well-executed scenes, Grant wrote it without frills “although fully alive”, as Buckmaster put it; We see the soliloquy of the mother as she remembers when she lost her son (Bryant) one day, during a shopping trip, and then surprised him after a long search and panic sitting in the back seat of the car looking at her and laughing, she says, “He was laughing at my pain.”

But more important is the first scene in the hospital burn department, where young Bryant is asked if he learned his lesson about fiddling with fireworks? And he answers yes, “But I’m still playing.”

Here, critic Buckmaster comments, “It’s a clever touch, which proves from the start that the hero of the story is fully aware that his actions have repercussions and consequences, and that he is not just a victim of antisocial behavior.”

The hero of the story realizes that his actions have repercussions and consequences and that he is not just a victim of antisocial behavior (communication sites)

ideological message

Director Kurzel’s vivid touches of “psychological intensification” harness the power of actor Caleb Landry-Jones (best actor winner at Cannes this year) to produce a darkly captivating performance throughout, with his talent for “severe drifts, painful ebb and flow and ebb and flow”. “.

Finally, the film’s opaque aesthetic is enhanced by an ideological message that appears when the hero (the criminal) goes shopping for weapons; It makes clear that Kurzel and Grant put work at the center of the gun laws debate; It is as if they were wondering: why would a person like this be allowed to buy weapons, whether he or his successor? Which was answered by the National Firearms Convention implemented in Australia after the massacre.

So Buckmaster saw that this is a good thing that distinguished this film from many other works of this kind, after it appeared on this wonderful level of using the tools of drama, and what it includes from the characters to the story and performance, to the extent that it represents an extraordinary achievement, not lacking in elegance, He asked, “What’s the point of making a movie about a mass shooting without a vision or an agenda, just wanting to recount horrible things in a realistic way?”

Instead, according to Alison Taylor, “the film raises complex questions about the volatile mix of personal, historical and social forces that may have led to the massacre.”

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