Schramm (1993) – Film Review
Director: Jorg Buttgereit
Cast: Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Micha Brendel, Monika M.
by Sarah Morgan
Germany has produced many great directors over the years. Right from the earliest days of cinema, it has been the home of many groundbreaking auteurs, from the leading lights of Expressionism to Werner Herzog and beyond. And then there’s Jorg Buttgereit. You may never have heard of him, but watch one of his films and it’s unlikely you’ll ever forget the name.
Buttgereit is, to put it mildly, an acquired taste. His best-known films are Der Todesking, which explores violent death and suicide across seven episodes, each one taking place on a different day of the week, and Nekromantik, which depicts necrophilia and, as a result, was banned in several countries.
Schramm is perhaps his most accessible work, but it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted or prudish. In fact, it’s difficult to know who it’s for; it’s dark, disturbing and very, very nasty.
The plot focuses on Lothar Schramm, an outwardly pleasant and polite loner who, in private, it beset by terrifying thoughts and visions. Or at least that’s what I took them to be – it’s never made clear if the events we see are actually happening, or if they being dreamt by Schramm. They may even be twisted fantasies or his imagination working overtime.
In a way, being free to make up our own minds is perhaps more intriguing than having the story spoon-fed to it. What we can be sure of is that Schramm has a very sick mind indeed, and spending time alone with his faults is not a pleasant or rewarding experience.
As is usually the case with Buttgereit’s projects, the film has been shot on a minuscule budget, contains blood, gore, sex and mutilation – don’t sit down to watch it with the family, unless you happen to be related to the clan in Texas Chain Saw Massacre…
Giving an actual opinion of Schramm is difficult. It’s definitely not enjoyable in the traditional sense and so can’t be appreciated in the same way as a more mainstream movie, but it deserves some recognition for at least making viewers stop and think.
This new DVD release is packed full of special features, which are actually more interesting than the film itself. Included among them is an up-to-the-minute interview with Buttgeriet himself, in which he discusses his career; look out too for a making-off feature and an animated sequel to Schramm entitled Tomorrow I Will Be Dirt.
The package also includes a copy of the film’s soundtrack by Max Muller and Gundula Schmitz.
HD transfer overseen by the filmmakers
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original uncompressed Stereo 2.0 audio
Optional English subtitles
Limited edition digipak packaging featuring new artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Limited edition certificate
Set of 5 exclusive Schramm "polaroid" postcards
Limited edition 60-page book
Released by Arrow, £29.99