@NZIFF: The Tribe’s highly upsetting ending

Why did we all love find The Tribe’s highly upsetting ending?

*CAUTION: SPOILERS* This post is dedicated to the ones that have been initiated to The Tribe only. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please, watch it, and then come back! Don’t trespass this rule, you’ll spoil your pleasure and an intense ending.

The Tribe: a film for Clockwork Orange‘s and Salò’s fans only?

Yesterday, while buying some other tickets for the NZIFF (impossible to resist to Miguel Gomes’ trilogy…), I was talking to a complete stranger about The Tribe again. Don’t you feel that each person who saw this film wants to talk about it? When I saw it last Thursday, I couldn’t, my throat was too tight. I couldn’t even articulate a word. But now, I’m curious about everybody’s opinion and more than ready to debate!

So, I was talking to a complete stranger (and very nice!) about The Tribe yesterday, and the first thing he mentioned was: “Don’t you find the ending awesome?! I cannot understand myself why I loved it so much!” He wasn’t the first to tell me that, and won’t probably be the last. This makes me wonder one more time, why I did love the ending so much, indeed?!

At the end of the discussion, we both agreed that Pasolini’s Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom and Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange are both cult movies. This all, plus The Tribe sounded too much: Was it the sign that we are two BDSM that didn’t dare to come out and be ourselves? No. Sorry to disappoint you, this post isn’t that crispy! We’re just huge fans of cinema. Let’s have a closer look at The Tribe.

A challenge for you brain, your soul & your body

The Tribe sign language NZIFF 2015Every initiated filmgoer who saw The Tribe knows how challenging this is to watching this film. First, the story is told in sign language without any subtitle – it’s not a movie for those you are not much fan of silent films! Secondly, the psychological violence of what unfolds in front of our eyes can be unbearable to many. The daily life of this deaf and dumb institute is harsh and cruel: Four teenage bosses manipulate all others, even the youngest ones. Guys are reduced to being producers and thieves, girls to being objects. They won’t spare the newcomer, Sergey who will first take part, then fell in love, his biggest crime.

The tribe’s life is deprived of any disinterested human feelings. They are all driven by money and pure egoistic pleasures, how will Sergey survive? “A void of love” summed up my friend Eric Kench, editor and critic. Yes, a void of love, a void of what we live for – the Holy Grail of our lives.

It goes without saying that this is not a new topic; there are countless movies about ruthless gangsters and neglected youth. But this particular one has something different: It challenges your eyes in every scene to understand what’s in stake; and doing so, it appeals for your deepest animal instincts and moves your guts. You’ve got no words to express your feelings. The audience’s experience is ground-breaking: your mind cannot save you from your emotions. That’s more likely why the person sitting next to me couldn’t help to wiggle on his seat excessively during the screening.

To a filmgoer that knows nothing about sign language, this film is felt through the body, because the mind cannot understand. In deleting the words, the director makes you, as in silent movies, come back to the simplest human reactions. But The Tribe is even better than a silent movie, because there are no intertitles and no music score to illustrate the actions and replace the voice. And instead of coming back to human emotions, we are led to feel pure animal drives, pure animality. Form and content have never been so well intertwined.

The Tribe LOVE NZIFF 2015

A necessary brutal ending

So, why did we all love its gruesome and cruel ending? Because how could have survived the guy next to me instead? How could I ever have found my voice again? We would have never lived on without any punching ball after it!

I had some many repressed and unexpressed feelings from the beginning to the end of the screening that my heart would have blown to pieces if nothing were there to calm it down. This ending made me exorcise all the violence I had swallowed till that point. The extreme violence of this final scene relieved me from the chaotic emotions that were eating me up. This never-ending crescendo of violence needed to be stopped. Now, I can close the door and leave all these feelings behind, without nurturing the idea to kill anybody in the street. The protagonist had his revenge. I could breathe again.

I’ve never watched a film with such a perfect title. “Pleyma” in Ukrainian, The Tribe in english. It reminds me of the german’s word, “trieb” meaning, drive, impulse. I saw this ending as a sublime act of resistance and of survival instinct. And you?

Sally Welly

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