“Whether you take the doughnut hole as a blank space or as an entity unto itself is a purely metaphysical question and does not affect the taste of the doughnut one bit.”–Haruki Murakami
DIRECTED BY: Daryush Shokof, Stefan Jonas
PLOT: Wealthy, elderly Archie is visited in his villa by a mysterious woman who sings an aria to him. Realizing that his death is near, he places an ad requesting young male servants. When the first of these arrives, he tells him he will earn ten thousand dollars if he inserts a finger in his ear and leave it there for ten days; he then hires three other men to plug up his other ear and each of his nostrils.
- Born in Iran but living in the U.S. and Europe, Daryush Shokof is a painter and experimental video artist. He co-wrote Seven Servants‘ script with his wife from a dream he had. This was his first feature film.
- Shokof considered cinematographer Stephan Jonas’ contribution so important that the opening credits announce it is a film by “Daryush Shokof & Stefan Jonas.”
- Anthony Quinn said that the finished project was ahead of its time, “a work for the 21st century,” and that release should be delayed. Although it played at two film festivals in 1996, Quinn, who was also an executive producer, decided to delay release after a timid reception. Soon after, the production company went bankrupt, so Seven Servants wasn’t screened again until 2009, and received a DVD release from Pathfinder Entertainment in the same year. Quinn died in 2001, which is why the film’s dedication speaks of him in the past tense.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Nothing less than cinema icon Anthony Quinn surrounded by four shirtless young men of different ethnicities, each with a finger stuck in his ear or nostril, with the whole assembly undulating like a dancing octopus as fruit floats over their heads.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Death sings an aria; Quinn’s plugged orifices; floating fruit
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: One of my favorite species of weird movies is the experiment in taking an absurd premise to its logical conclusion. Seven Servants starts in earnest when a man sticks his finger in Anthony Quinn’s ear and doesn’t let up until every last one of his apertures is closed. It’s end-of-life porn, a smooth jazz fantasy of death as an epicurean celebration of life.
Original trailer for Seven Servants
COMMENTS: So, what do you do if you’re an obscure Iranian expatriate artist and you have a dream about a dying man who hires Continue reading 352. SEVEN SERVANTS (1996)