Last week I watched a film called The Tribe. It is the first full-length feature made completely in sign language.
The resulting film, made by Ukranian director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, is a confronting and thought-provoking journey into the shadows of the human condition.
There are no words or subtitles, and the audience must rely completely on their interpretation of the scenes unfolding in front of them ultimately placing them in the shoes of those that are deaf or blind. Music was also absent, which only heightened background noises such as footsteps, car engines, whimpers and moans.
The major premise of the film is that you can understand the narrative and it’s themes despite the communicational barrier. It works. The whole experience is a gripping, thought-provoking journey into the shadows of the human condition.
The film hides within its at times harmless fight scenes an ultra violent and confronting agenda. The themes are truly lasting and only grow in the audience’s mind like a sown seed. Once this unapologetic seed is sown, your mind cannot help but water it. The desperation and carnality of the entire experience is washed by this inherency of need and desperation
One reviewer on IMDB has described The Tribe as an “abyss of human depravity” where every character is only out for his or her own demented interest. The one aspect of tenderness that is present within the film is the bastard of opportunism, carnality and desire.
There are so many reasons to be disgusted by the characters, but why can they not, in some way, be respected? They are only pursuing a script of the human condition and the unfolding traits the audience is exposed to are not too far a cry from dog eat dog chaos that we see on a daily basis.
I cannot encourage the faint hearted to watch this film.
On the surface there is a complete innovation of the traditional cinema recipe, the removal of the oral elements is far from similar to the silent necessity of early films. This is deliberate and highly consequential. Below the this exterior of innovation is a very confronting portrayal of humanity that will no doubt beckon comment from all who watch.
What are your thoughts?