Philosophy of a Knife – 2008 – An extreme flick
I’ve had Philosophy of a Knife in my possession almost since it was released almost ten years ago. For some reason, I’ve never watched it. Maybe it’s because it’s four hours long and filmed in black and white. At least for the most part. Well, I’ve never been afraid of watching long movies in foreign languages and I often see black and white as a more stylistic way to create beautiful imagery, so that can’t be it. Maybe it’s because of the extreme subject? Well, I’ve seen my fair share of extreme movies with extreme content and I usually love movies that stretch the rules a little bit.
If you’re familiar with the infamous Unit 731 you’ll know what kind of extreme scenes Philosophy of a Knife might have. If you’re not familiar with Unit 731 let me brief you very short about it. Unit 731 was a research facility during the second world war run by the Japanese where inhuman experiments were conducted. These experiments were often lethal and very painful. Anyway, this is the subject this pseudo-documentary is trying to cover. I say pseudo because I’m not entirely sure all the research are in place. It’s also hinted in the introduction that Philosophy of a Knife is the interpretation of the fact done by the director of the movie. That makes it lose its documentary status to me. Therefore I call it pseudo-documentary.
I usually find these over-the-top flicks very interesting. The subject is indeed very interesting and violent. I don’t care that it’s in black and white. But I can’t really cope with the artistic ambition. I can’t tell what is archive imagery and what is fake scenes. Obviously, some scenes have been created for shocking purposes. Actually, I would say most of them. Maybe there are a few overviews not created for this film, I don’t know. I think it’s pretty fair to say that there’s no genuine torture or experimentation though.
As said, these scenes are in black and white. But not only that. They are also designed to look old and as such it’s very hard to see any details of what’s going on. Between scenes there are interviews. If these are real or fake I have no Idea. It seems to me that it would be hard finding a living person that was actually there when the camp was closed in 1945. And if you should find such a person, would they really talk about the activities carried out in such terms? I’m skeptical.
I could forgive it all in terms of a faux-documentary though. Everything would be ok. But at the end of the day, Philosophy of a Knife is so boring to watch it’s hard to keep up any interest. I don’t even have the energy to get shocked about the content. It’s just boring and impossible to make out a storyline from. The scenes don’t seem connected and there are just gory scenes for the sake of it. And it’s not even well made gory scenes. Most of it seems realistic but some are so ugly that it’s impossible to fall for an illusion.
As Andrey Iskanov says in the introduction. This film is not for everyone. That’s a raging cliche of course but it’s true. But I think I would rephrase that. This is a movie for a selected few. The die-hard fans that need to see films no one else appreciates. This was certainly not for me!