Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Catching Up On The Classics: Freaks (1932)
(Simply for the purposes of brevity and avoiding confusion, let me just say that I will refer to any of the actors with real deformities here as "freaks." I'm not trying to be disrespectful or mean, obviously. Hopefully you get it.)
All this confusion is made all the more difficult to deal with while watching the movie because the freaks are all awesome people. Aside from Venus the animal trainer and Phroso the clown (who is actually very annoying at times), it is the so-called normal people - Cleopatra and Hercules - who are the ones we hate the most for their prejudice of the freaks; their self-centeredness; their manipulation of Hans and Frieda; and their greed. The freaks are sweet, fun people who obviously feel very comfortable and at home in their community, despite the fact that their jobs are to show off their deformities for gawkers. Even when the freaks take their revenge at the end, a part of you is definitely rooting for them. I also have to point out here that while I hated her character Cleopatra, I absolutely loved Olga Baclanova's portrayal of her. The way she speaks and all her little gestures really sell that this woman is completely full of herself and just a really bad human being. Olga at the wedding feast is fantastic - every annoying drunk person you ever knew, right there.
So I've finally seen Freaks and I'm so glad that I did. Like I said before, it is a very, very rare movie in that we will never see anything like it ever again. A truly unique and fascinating tale, Tod Browning's Freaks was saved from obscurity to be enjoyed and appreciated for future generations and I think we all need to do our part to keep that going.