It takes an exceptional film to garner almost unanimous praise. Now imagine a mockumentary that promotes bestiality receiving 100 percent critical accolades across the board! Impossible? One would think so in lieu of the overwhelming amount of creatively conservative film criticism flooding the Internet. Now factor in the amateur hack critics who equate the medium of film with video games and comic books, review them side by side, and judge a film’s intrinsic value solely by entertainment level alone and insist film is absolutely nothing more. Well then such a mockumentary would have about as much chance as the well worn, so-called snowball in hell. But, startlingly, Devilhead Film’s production of Sir Tijn Po’s Coming Soon has done just that.
What is amusing and vehemently predictable is the raging net debate over whether or not the film is documentary or mockumentary. The answer to that is woefully obvious, especially by the film’s end.
Some have likened Sir Tijn Po to David Lynch. That’s even more predictable and couldn’t be more off base, but then the same thing is frequently said of Guy Maddin as well and both filmmakers are far more interesting than the David Lynch of today.
A lot of phrases like “thought-provoking”, “redefining the boundaries of tolerance”, and “philosophically layered” have been bandied about in the promotion of this film. E.F.A (Equality For All) is a supposed organization which promotes the acceptance of human/animal love (zoophilia rights) and has given it’s stamp of approval for the film. The E.F.A website claims that throughout the ages mankind has trod upon the animal kingdom, including even making them detestable household pets. Man has assumed he is superior to animals and thus has upset the order of nature. Sure, mankind’s deplorable treatment of animals is basic history 101, but attempting to justify “forced” bestiality upon a poor, dumb animal is, to put it mildly, reaching. Of course, there’s always Herzog’s Grizzly Man: a poignant documentary about truly respecting nature and the brutal consequences of not. Case in point; one commentator in the film claims animals never kill with malice. There is plenty of documentary film footage which shows, yes, sometimes animals do indeed kill with malice.
While this film could hardly be seriously labeled “thought provoking”, or even flawless, it is a supremely crafted, poetic, humorous, perverted mockumentary that should appeal to even the mildest surrealist. Most objective reviewers, surprisingly, have critiqued Coming Soon within the realm of aesthetics only, which is as it should be.
The film begins with sepia toned ‘old film stock’ of a pagan celebration depicting a woman marrying a horse. The image then dissolves into the woman, now quite old, fondly and emotionally reminiscing about her late hubby horse.
The E.F.A meeting sequences are the least effective. There’s something disconcerting about the depicted organized paganism, in a classroom setting with miked speakers, metal chairs and group applause. While the irony is hardly lost in regards to the E.F.A sequences, it is the one on one interviews with wildly colorful, eccentric characters that are the most compelling.
A burly, bearded pagan former E.F.A member, decked in animal furs, passionately talks about animals souls being purer than humans and does a brief rant about misconceptions, such as imagining someone f___ing a spider. Later, the fur wearing gentleman reveals he was expelled from E.F.A for attacking other members when meat was served at an E.F.A meeting (the interviewer does a priceless eye roll). ZooZana, a caricatured “legendary” zoo porno star, holds a tall glass of red wine, bedecked in jewelry, black teddy and red feathers, narrates over footage of humping dogs, and talks of being turned on by fur, animal aroma and being shagged by a horse. A Hellenist waxes philosophically about the history of Christianity and pre-Christian religions. An E.F.A member, a visual artist, reminisces about a communist regime trying to wean him off his attraction to animals and then displays his therapeutic art of a black Madonna “which looks fiercely into the person” and Christ, “like he really was: blood, dirt, pain because I don’t like when people portray a faith where everything smells great and clean.”
One of the most amusing vignettes concerns a butcher claiming that his dead wife was reincarnated into a pig that he was about to slaughter. The butcher even carries a 5 x 7 of his pig wife in his wallet and contemplates the difficulties of artificially inseminating her so they can have little piglets.
A re-enactment of ZooZana confronting a mother superior who killed her lover kitty cat, a woman abducted by local rednecks who killed her lover bull, animals rights activists publicly butting heads with E.F.A, are some of the more dramatically realized scenes. There’s also a hilarious interview with people in which the interviewer asks whether it is worse to rape or murder an animal. Many of the reactions are near classic.
Coming Soon is undoubtedly a film that will be discussed for a very long time and that’s its quirky power. Highly recommended.
WARNING: Towards the end of the film, there are repeated, disturbing images of slaughtered & tortured animals.
As of this writing, you can view Coming Soon in a low-res version in its entirety for free at the official website: http://www.comingsoon.cz/.
Hi-res DVD copies with extra features are also available for purchase from Amazon
(buy). NOTE: These DVDs are in PAL format: most DVDs players in the United States and Canada cannot play PAL discs. Do not purchase unless you have a PAL-compatible DVD player. UPDATE 9/7/09: An NTSC version (which will play in North American DVD players) is now available. This is the version linked to from the image above.
-Alfred Eaker is the director of Jesus and Her Gospel of Yes!, voted Best Experimental Film in the 2004 New York International Film and Video Festival, and the feature W the Movie.