Of Freaks and Men

7.11 h 28 min1998R
St. Petersburg, early 20th century. The handsome and secretive Johann specializes in shooting erotic pictures depicting the floggings of bare-bottomed women. With the help of his assistants, the photographic creations gradually penetrate the peaceful households of two upper-class Russian families.
Aleksey Balabanov
Sergey MakovetskiyViktor SukhorukovAngelika Nevolina
ComedyDramaSpecial Interest
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Supporting actors
Dinara DrukarovaAleksei DyoChingiz TsydendambayevVadim ProkhorovAleksandr MezentsevIgor ShibanovDarya YugrensTatyana Polonskaya
R (Restricted)
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3.4 out of 5 stars

19 global ratings

  1. 43% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 0% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 18% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 22% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

John StanhopeReviewed in the United States on January 8, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Very far from sexy and carefully bizarre
Verified purchase
The relentless ugliness is hard to take. As are all the close-ups of a man's vile smile.
AnnaReviewed in the United States on December 18, 2017
2.0 out of 5 stars
Slap This One Aside
Plodding and painful (pun intended) to watch. A series of vignettes concerning the filming of a specific fetish which appeared to appeal to a certain class of rather well-bred men and the viewing of such in theatres and brothels. I wished to feel pity for the characters or try to understand what made them tick but all I saw was an art film with no real purpose other than to look old - the scratchy sepia tone ... and intellectual - a classical music score ... combined with a touch of frisson - i.e. well-toned female bodies bending over.

As for the kids. Child abuse is unforgivable and disgusting no matter how portrayed. Regarding the rest. If you don't empathize with what's going on who the hell cares if gentile, or even outright depraved brutality occurs for sexual pleasuring.

Sex is mechanical unless love or emotion is involved. Otherwise, it's simply body parts being used and - fictionally in this case - abused.
3 people found this helpful
Hee Chul KwonReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wow, what a creepy. sad and mesmerizing and grimmy movie this is.
I can almost think of <Elephant Man> or even indie film like <TWIN FALLS IDAHO> another great film about this Siam twin brother's sad tale.

This movie is about a twisted minded pornographer who constantly shoots still photos about women being whipped by a nanny being naked. And because this is the turn of the century and the moving picture was just invented, he also begins to shoot the film camera to do the same thing.

There is also the siamese twin brothers about 7-8 years old who sing well.
The pornographer uses them and shoots them naked too. This must be called as child pornography. It is so sad.

The great thing about this film is not about nudity. It's about the tone. It was entirely shown in sepia tone and it looks very beautiful and gloomy at the same time. It drives us to the early 20th century period as if we are actually seeing the really old film but truely a dream like beautiful one.

This movie is made in Russia and a lot of Russia classic music were in this movie as well that makes this moive even more classy.

As I early mentioned, this movie reminds me of David Lynch's early works made in black/whie, as well as another story of a siamese twins a very sad tale <TWIN FALLS IDAHO> who tries to separates themselves and ends up with one of them dies and the other one suffers from being alone.

The main actress Dinara Drukarova acted as Lisa a lady who lives in this house that seems normal but somehow not. There also lived a father and a blind woman who adopted siamese twins.
When the father left, the pornographer who is also related to one of the servant takes possese of the family and uses the blind woman to make movies about the woman baing whipped by the old nanny.
This is so called porn. A strange one. There is no intercours or anything flashy.
It's just a woman leaning on the chair showing her back being whipped that's all. Is this torture? Hardly.
The thing is audiences later we see on the theater seem to enjoy it very much.

Going back to the story, maybe because of the sepia tone and all, the movie is very gloomy and almost make me dip into the grave.
But also so artistic that I once and for all felt the beauty of Russian art again.

There's a word saying Russia never makes cheap stuff.
Who said that?
I did. I just made it up.
I just happen to be a huge fan of Russian movies and Russian Classic music.

There is this train station showing the train leaving and the movie shows that moment from time to time which also makes us feels like I want to just leave this freaky place.
At the end the siamese brothers and Lisa they all leave the place and go on a journey. That I think is a happy ending in some way.
The brothers looking for their father, Lisa looking for a new life.
Hope they find what they are looking for.

If you see this film you cannot but to feel love both the siamese brothers and Lisa since they are so sad and vulnerable that you just have to do something for them.

This is not an erotic movie since I told you Russian don't make cheap erotic films.

You should see this film if you have a chance. It will blow your mind away.
But if you are expecting something like nudity or beyond, skip this one.
One person found this helpful
chainlinkReviewed in the United States on September 11, 2012
1.0 out of 5 stars
A pretty nasty piece of work
I really don't get all these positive reviews--I found this film obnoxious to watch, a chore to finish, and without the intellectual or artistic heft that would make it useful to reflect on or rewarding to recollect. I can imagine a film about quaint turn-of-the-century dabblings in sado-masochistic porn that would be interesting, even amusingly titillating--or "deliciously subversive" as the DVD casecover mistakenly calls this. I find "Venus in Furs" by Sacher-Masoch (from whom "masochism" takes its name) a genuinely fascinating, if not very arousing, work: it brims with psychological insight into the origins (that is to say, within an individual's sexual make-up) and significance of masochistic sex.

But any such insight is precisely what is entirely lacking in Of Freaks And Men. The sadism that is most apparent isn't really in the naughty spankings being staged and photographed. The film doesn't have anything interesting to say _about_ sadism at all; it is, rather, itself a dumb and brutal exercise of it. It suggests that the filmmakers found a kind of pleasure in creating utterly depthless human-like figures so they could poke and pierce them with any stray sharp stuff they could find within reach, like particularly lazy and cynical voodoo priests. The deaths and sufferings of these characters are handled in a casually malicious way, without any trace of wit--that is to say, they are less Tarantino than Marquis de Sade (whose imagination was, finally, merely mechanical also).
One person found this helpful
Jay FentonReviewed in the United States on June 23, 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars
Art, Sex And Psychology
OF FREAKS AND MEN is a constantly interesting story and film-------very well photographed---------about a strange, psychopathic pornographer who makes movies of women being whipped by a "nanny" for the underground market at the turn of the century. The film is shot in a sepia tone to give a nice authenticity to the proceedings. If you've seen photographs from the fin-de-siecle, you realize what marvelous recreations of those romantic-------though risqué--------photographs the filmmakers have achieved. Many of them look very much like the photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron----------one of the finest photographers working after the Civil War, who specialized in photographing women in dream like, highly romantic, almost spiritual scenes. She never did photos like this, of course, but the same care was taken in the art direction of this film.
But most interesting of all is the psychological workings of the minds of the very respectable middle class characters who find themselves drawn to this seedy business against their wills, but are quite willing to pursue their newfound inner freedom after the pornographer has left. This is one of Image Entertainment's most artistic releases for 2001. More please.
Jay F.
11 people found this helpful
KGReviewed in the United States on September 18, 2011
4.0 out of 5 stars
Disturbing and beautiful
Bold, experimental film with overtones of David Lynch, Peter
Greenaway and others, but on first viewing at least seemed
to have more style than substance.

Photographed on scratchy black and white and sepia toned films,
and using titles like a silent film even though there is dialogue,
there's a fascinating sense of being dislocated in time by this story
of exploiters and pornographers in turn of the 20th century Russia.

Thematically it explores all sorts of exploitive relationships, particularly
sexual, and the idea that all cinema, is in it's own way, porn.

But somehow the ideas don't seem all that deep. I felt like I got the
films message long before it was over. Still, the visuals kept me
hooked, and I'd definitely give it another look to see if it grew deeper
on a second viewing. It's one of those films that demands at least
that much respect.
"ruzzante"Reviewed in the United States on June 21, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Let That Be A Lesson to You!"
Filmed in the golden-sepia color of an early talkie-movie, Of Freaks and Men, a 1998 movie, has a measured pace, angelic music, and a story line that assaults every sensitivity before offering reprieve.
Basically, this is a cyclic bourgeoisie/neo-bourgeoisie tale. The principal characters on the bourgeoisie side are the charming innocents: Leeza, the Freaks (Siamese-twin boys with angelic voices and personalities), and their adopting mother, the blind Yekaterina. These people are humiliatingly defiled and commercially exploited by the murderous Johann and his kin/cohorts Grunya and Viktor.
An emphasis on camera and phonograph (commercial tools) and the money exchanged between accomplices-in-crime i.e. cameraman and director (and paying audiences!) allows Of Freaks and Men to be viewed as a critique of the divisive/exploitative dehumanization that monopolistic capitalism can sickeningly produce. Yet, there's greater ambiguity and depth to this movie than that.
Most rewarding, arguably,(when considering how individuals move in this tale from closed/protected family/societal status to the opening-out vulnerable-and-being-hurt but self-developing status) is to view this drama as an innocence-to-experience tale which then moves forward to dramatize the even more mysterious and more demanding phase of life when a person rationally chooses to re-experience abuses until forgiveness offers understanding, deliverance, redemption, and, eventually, full and compassionate personal freedom. There are many views to consider though ... that's the joy of true cinematic art!
The DVD has no extras other than on/off subtitles and scene selection. There's no information about the director, cast or additional movies! Nevertheless, disappointments aside, this fearlessly profane morality/redemption tale still merits 5 stars!
5 people found this helpful
Lena BaranovaReviewed in the United States on November 5, 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very well-filmed movie
Indeed - very well-done. The action takes place in Saint-Petersburg in the beginning of the XX century - to attract viewers attention to the time depicting, the director films it in yellowish colours - not in black and white, and taking into consideration the plot of the movie, this colour scheme brings the feeling of something which is not normal, crazy and strange. Sergey Makovetskiy (leading part) acts brilliantly - as good as in no other of his movies.
7 people found this helpful
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