First of all, Lupus deserves the highest praise for uprgrading the quality
and expanding the boundaries of the lowly fetish flick (in contrast to the
crude, no-frills Nu-West, for example). Most of their films are top-notch
in every department. But some efforts like this one (along with "Soul of
Honor" and "The Orphan") are somewhat tainted by the European disease of
"auteurism." A malady causing filmmakers to get carried away, believing
they're creating important Art Films suitable for the Cannes Film Festival.
Here the afflicted lose sight of what their mini-movies really are --
upscale whup-ass featurettes for a not-so-discriminating clientele who
generally watch with their pants around their ankles. The tragic, but
avoidable, result of auteurism is a surplus of long, talky, pretentious
material that is passed over, as it should be, in fast-forward mode. The
only known cure is an impeccable editor.
Despite the influence of "1984" (which was really about Stalinism -- a pet
obsession at Lupus), "The Noise" is more like a rehash of "THX-1138," George
Lucas' first movie. If you've seen that film, you've seen this one. In
short, a brainwashed, robotlike society is held in sterile, cultural
cold-storage by unfeeling authoritarians. Oh, and two cute sisters
(Katerina and Ester) get caned at the end. That's all you really need to
know about the plot.
Although the movie has an ambitious premise, it quickly runs dry of ideas.
We're stuck in a repetitive hampster-wheel of a story that repeats itself
over and over for almost an hour. This drove me half insane, and the drab,
dreary setting offered no relief. (Just because the drama is about a
boring, colorless society, that doesn't mean the movie should be boring to
watch.) This might have worked as a modest half-hour film with twice the
CP, but the bloated length, with no action till the end, made it
excruciating. I like a good story as much as anybody, but I'd rather drink
gasoline that sit through this one again.
After what feels like forever, the two girls finally receive their
inevitable shellackings. No imaginative, futuristic punishments here --
just two standard, old-fashioned canings. These are delivered with typical
force, but there are several annoying pauses where Alexandra Wolf stops the
action to bark at the parents. That didn't help much. The two canings are
fine, but they're not enough after such a long build-up. And you can find
the same, or better, in almost any other Lupus film. The selling point of
this film was intended to be the novelty of the science fiction setting. So
it is ironic that this attempt to bring some "cinema de qualite" to the CP
genre was instead bogged-down by its ponderous, futuristic script.
First of all, Lupus deserves the highest praise for uprgrading the quality and expanding the boundaries of the lowly fetish flick (in contrast to the crude, no-frills Nu-West, for example). Most of their films are top-notch in every department. But some efforts like this one (along with "Soul of Honor" and "The Orphan") are somewhat tainted by the European disease of "auteurism." A malady causing filmmakers to get carried away, believing they're creating important Art Films suitable for the Cannes Film Festival. Here the afflicted lose sight of what their mini-movies really are -- upscale whup-ass featurettes for a not-so-discriminating clientele who generally watch with their pants around their ankles. The tragic, but avoidable, result of auteurism is a surplus of long, talky, pretentious material that is passed over, as it should be, in fast-forward mode. The only known cure is an impeccable editor.
Despite the influence of "1984" (which was really about Stalinism -- a pet obsession at Lupus), "The Noise" is more like a rehash of "THX-1138," George Lucas' first movie. If you've seen that film, you've seen this one. In short, a brainwashed, robotlike society is held in sterile, cultural cold-storage by unfeeling authoritarians. Oh, and two cute sisters (Katerina and Ester) get caned at the end. That's all you really need to know about the plot.
Although the movie has an ambitious premise, it quickly runs dry of ideas. We're stuck in a repetitive hampster-wheel of a story that repeats itself over and over for almost an hour. This drove me half insane, and the drab, dreary setting offered no relief. (Just because the drama is about a boring, colorless society, that doesn't mean the movie should be boring to watch.) This might have worked as a modest half-hour film with twice the CP, but the bloated length, with no action till the end, made it excruciating. I like a good story as much as anybody, but I'd rather drink gasoline that sit through this one again.
After what feels like forever, the two girls finally receive their inevitable shellackings. No imaginative, futuristic punishments here -- just two standard, old-fashioned canings. These are delivered with typical force, but there are several annoying pauses where Alexandra Wolf stops the action to bark at the parents. That didn't help much. The two canings are fine, but they're not enough after such a long build-up. And you can find the same, or better, in almost any other Lupus film. The selling point of this film was intended to be the novelty of the science fiction setting. So it is ironic that this attempt to bring some "cinema de qualite" to the CP genre was instead bogged-down by its ponderous, futuristic script.
"The Noise" is a tribute to George Orwell's novel "1984", produced to mark the book's 20th anniversary last year. The new incarnation of Big Brother is called the System, and every living person is its element. "The noise", then, is the human equivalent of interference on radio waves: thoughts and deeds that are in any way original, out of line, purposeless. The System, being a sum of its elements, is, essentially, a self-maintaining and self-protecting creation; therefore, when any element (read: a person) threatens it in any way, any "noise" must be eliminated, and the "element" trained back onto the straight and narrow path.
At the centre of the film there is a family of four: Mother, Father and two teenage daughters. (They have names, found in the end credits, but the names are not ever used during the course of the film, and so, to make things easier, we will call them Brunette and Redhead. Admit it... that's what you'll think of them as when watching the film, anyway.) They live in a flat with a minimum of furniture; you will notice an absence of any decorations, or even any chairs, as the System discourages sitting down. The obligatory piece in every room is a sensor on the wall, which functions as an eye of the System; it monitors movement, conversations, and even the body temperature of everybody present in the room, checking it against accepted standards of behaviour. Whenever anything out of the ordinary happens in the room, the sensor goes into a state of alert and turns from green to red; we are left to wonder for a while as to what will happen if the situation doesn't then receive a satisfactory resolution.
In this world colours are dull: all clothes are in shades of grey, all faces are pale, all food is either shapeless gruel or blocks of jellified substance. Everybody wears identical clothes, depending on their age and status: a school or home uniform for the girls, civilian uniform for the grown-ups, sharp militaristic clothing for the officers of the System. The only sources of vivid colours are flashing sensors of the walls, and defiantly bright hair of the red-headed daughter. (One wonders whether Ester Slabá was cast for the role of the rebellious daughter because of the decidedly rebellious colour of her hair, which refuses to correspond to the muted, System-friendly colour scheme.)
People in this world communicate chiefly with formulae and euphemisms, which carry a healthy whiff of Orwell. "The System protects us" is a greeting, lying about one's school marks is "giving false information about one's results in the System elements development institute". A punishment is "corrective action". Every day the family has a session where they repeat to each other a small catechism of the System formulae, such as "The Noise in the System can't endanger its functions," "The System protects itself from the Noise", and a number of sayings to go with just about any of the limited number of everyday activities. Any original expressions - particularly questions - are a cause for the sensors to go into a state of heightened alert.
Blow-by-blow: The film opens with a prologue. First, we see a dream-sequence of sorts: a little girl and her mother are picking daisies in the field; they will take them to the girl's daddy. Then we are introduced to a short history of the System's descent, including the fact that popular support at the time of its introduction was 99.98%.
After main titles against a background of ominous red sunrise, we see the main characters for the first time: Father dressing in front of the mirror, Mother seeing him off with a formal kiss on the cheek. Mother (played superbly by Tina Škodová) lingers at the mirror, studying herself, and thus causes the sensor to flash red, as interest to one's own appearance is not encouraged. We, meanwhile, get a good look at what life under the System does to a young woman's appearance. Mother's face is sallow; she has deep circles around her eyes; her lips have an unhealthy bluish tinge. We notice echoes of the same symptoms in her daughters, who are shown standing at the narrow dining table, eating gruel in synchronous moves. The make-up artist for "The Noise" has done a great job in creating the pale, joyless look for the actors, while preserving the loveliness that we seek from performers in erotic films.
Once we are introduced to the main players, the film flashes back to a time three years previously. We are in what looks like a reception hall for a System's office. A uniformed official is processing visitors: an unfamiliar couple, visibly cowed, have brought their daughter to this office to be punished. While the father fills in a form, the trembling girl looks through a photo album of previously punished girls. Thus, we get a glimpse of caned behinds fairly early into this plot-heavy film, presumably to keep the less patient viewers entertained.
Two System officers emerge from a previously closed door. They order the girl to strip. The camera follows the process with scrupulous attention, and thus we get a closer look at the System's school uniform. It consists of a light-grey blouse and tie, a straight skirt down to mid-thigh, in a darker shade of grey, plus knee socks and grey cotton panties. As the girl undresses, the camera lingers on her bare breasts for a good few seconds; evidently, the uniform doesn't include a bra. The girl and her parents are ushered inside the office, and the door clicks shut behind them.
Soon after that the already familiar Father enters the reception area, bringing with him his brunette daughter, who is made to wait on the bench in front of the office. Kate?ina Tetová's face is wonderfully expressive. The camera closely follows her every emotion as we hear in the background very distinct sounds of the first girl's caning: a muted thwack and high-pitched sobbing. As the strokes follow at a slow pace, and the sobbing grows more distressed, it is all reflected on the Brunette's face. She presses her hands over her ears and squeezes her eyes shut, but the screams obviously penetrate through this, causing her to start crying. Thus, with her weeping and rocking gently forward and back, the scene fades to black, and we return to the present time.
The two sisters are back home from school. They always move in synch. We follow them alternatively through the normal camera view and through the view via the monitoring sensors, which give the scene a decidedly deathly greenish hue, and supply a running commentary of subtitles. ("E.g.: "Two subjects in the monitored space", "Watch out! Suspicious activity!"). The girls follow an obviously studied ritual as they inspect each other's appearance, repeat a little catechism of System formulae, and change out of their school uniforms into a house uniform: short-sleeved, button-down grey dresses with white collar and cuffs.
The Brunette is obviously the more responsible sister, who concentrates hard on following every small rule and keeping the Redhead within the prescribed bounds. Having witnessed her arrival into the punishment office, we can take an educated guess as to the reasons for her conformity.
The girls take out their school books to do homework (they work standing up at their desk). With a surreptitious glance at the sensor, the Redhead finds a postcard in her book. It's a picture of a daisy; the girl strokes its petals. The sensor doesn't react: apparently, it is not all-seeing.
After concentrating on her homework for a while, the Redhead complains that her legs are aching, and asks to lie down for a bit. We see the sensor turn red; it is obvious that this girl will be in trouble fairly soon at this rate, but for now the Brunette knows the right course of action: the answer to aching legs is short exercise. Both girls they lie on their backs and do cycling motions with their legs in the air, while we are treated to a few minutes of panty shots.
After dinner Mother comes into the girls' room to check their homework: apparently, she must put a fingerprint in their exercise books. As she lifts the Redhead's book, the picture of a daisy falls out. Mother confiscates the card; she doesn't look angry, but scolds both daughters for allowing the source of "noise" to infiltrate their family. Apparently, pictures of daisies are anathema here. Mother promises to turn the card in to the officials. After she leaves, Brunette begs her sister to be more careful, if she doesn't want to end up in the punishment office, like she herself once had. The Redhead, watched by the flaming red sensor, tries to interrogate her about it, but instead the Brunette insists they repeat their catechism about the noise and its elimination.
In the kitchen Mother, having sent Father off to the bathroom first, turns her back to the sensor and secretly strokes the petals of the daisy on the confiscated postcard. We see again the scene from the prologue: the girl and her mother picking daisies in the field. This, then, is the little girl from the sequence. Mother obviously yearns for the days before the System, and daisies have become a symbol of past freedoms to her.
In contrast to this wistful, private scene, we are next treated to a private scene of a different kind: we get to see the girls have their showers. While only the end of the Brunette's shower is included in the film, if you buy the DVD, you can see the whole thing as an extra feature. The Redhead's shower follows. It is a full soap-and-water affair, with her fingers spending rather more time on her naughty bits than is necessary for their washing. She is lost in the enjoyment of her shower when a signal sounds that she should finish. Both girls change into shapeless grey pyjamas with pale stripes and go to the kitchen to wish their parents good night (Or, in their language, "Peaceful sleep, System protects us").
Before they go, the Redhead once again sends the sensors into panic by asking whether either of her parents has ever experienced the Noise. Father, stony-faced, explains that he remembers the days before the System, and they were one big noise; that was why people created the System. After the girls leave, Mother whispers to him something that attentive viewers have already figured out: she sometimes misses the times before the System. Father hisses at her never to talk about it. The sensor doesn't pick this conversation up. Perhaps, living long enough under the System, one learns the limits to the capabilities of the sensors.
The parents' bedroom is furnished with two flat mattresses alongside each other: grey sheets, grey narrow blankets. No pillows. Only a few minutes after they settle down, with a sound of a siren the sensor above their beds goes bright red. Red lighting flashes in the girls' bedroom, the source of the siren, until the parents arrive to investigate. A digitised voice reports that the sensors have detected a System Violation Attempt: increased breathing frequency, increased heart rate, increased temperature, increased moisture, increased emotional tension. (Which, translates, of course, into a girl touching herself: obviously, not something that the System condones.) There is a beautiful shot through the sensor: two girls looking up at it, terrified, in eerie green light.
Mother turns with accusation to the Brunette first: three years before they've already had a problem with "unauthorised contact". Yet, the Brunette says it wasn't her. The Redhead also denies doing anything wrong. The parents are angry, because obviously one of the girls is lying. Both daughters are ordered into a cold shower; they girls strip and scamper to the bathroom. This is where the investigation has to stop, however, and the family goes back to bed.
In their bedroom, Father wistfully sighs about some "unauthorised contact", but Mother implores him to keep quiet, because in their case it wouldn't end with simple "corrective measures". One can't help but wonder what methods the System uses to repress sexuality in adults, but perhaps we are better off not knowing that. Meanwhile, the girls are also whispering in bed. The Brunette asks the Redhead not to touch herself any more, because although it's pleasant, the punishment will not be pleasant at all. The Redhead wants to know why the System protects them from pleasing things, but is curtly told to shut up.
The next day, as we follow the girls through their routine, there is obvious disquiet. The Brunette is distracted enough that she allows herself to give her nipples a rub while she's changing into her home dress. She's brought to her senses by her Sister, who keeps asking questions that set the sensor frantic with alarm: "What would happen if there were no System? What's wrong with noise?" The Brunette manages to satisfy the sensor with authorised answers, but the suspense grows all through the scene. The Redhead tries to distract herself with another series of legs-up exercises on the bed (with more panty shots), but even after that she is agitated, and draws a picture of a daisy on a sheet of blotting paper. "I don't actually know what's wrong with noise", the Brunette admits pensively. The sensors don't pick this up, but the feeling of approaching doom doesn't subside.
The tension stays high all through the dinner, when Mother says she has turned in the offensive picture. Mother is also distracted and agitated. She checks the girls' homework, and reminds them that the System protects them, but her thoughts are miles away. Surely enough, she soon makes a mistake during the recital of her catechism. No matter how hard Father tries to make her concentrate, she can't stay focused enough, and soon blunders again. Moreover, she keeps talking about being tired, which appears to be a forbidden topic. After a couple of these mistakes, another careless word sets off the siren and the red flashing lights.
While Father screams to be left out of this, the digitised voice lists Mother's sins, which include inappropriate topics of conversation and hiding forbidden materials: like we might have suspected, she hasn't turned in the picture of the daisy. Uniformed officers promptly arrive to take Mother away; Father, the gentleman that he is, crouches in the corner. One of the officers brushes his face with his foot in contempt, and the scene fades to black.
Mother must have returned at some point during the night, because in the morning, as the girls change out of their pyjamas, the Redhead asks where Mother had been at night. Brunette evidently has a fair idea of what Mother must have faced, because she begs her not to be asked, and instead screams some System's slogans and runs to the shower, where she shivers under streams of water just long enough for the viewers to savour this brief shower scene.
We don't see Mother until the family gathers that evening to wish each other good night. She looks even paler and sicker than usual; her eyes are empty. The breast of her uniform jacket is now marked with a big red triangle. When later the parents are getting into bed, we see the same triangle on Mother's pyjamas. In the dark they hold hands, and Father says that while he isn't angry, he knows that the girls are like their Mother. Somehow, this isn't much of a surprise.
Neither is it a surprise that soon red alarm is raised again. The sensors have again detected signs of a girl touching herself. The digitised voice informs us that, this being a repeat offence, corrective measures are necessary. This time, however, when asked which of them did it, both girls say: "It was me," and insist that this is so even when their parents beg them to tell the truth. The System, obviously not amused by this, declares them both sources of noise, and sentences them to be brought for corrective measures within two days.
In the familiar reception, a uniformed clerk sneers at the parents for allowing both daughters to need correction for "physical noise". Both girls are now sitting in the hall, neat in their school uniforms, listening to the sounds of severe punishment coming from the office. The Redhead is the first to start sniffling. The Brunette, although trying to be brave, is also visibly distressed. Soon enough a punishment officer emerges from the room, followed by a naked, sobbing girl and her father. The officer commands our girls to strip, which they do, in suspense, to a dramatic sound-track. The officer gestures for the entire family to enter the punishment room. (Which is, incidentally, Room 7G, not Room 101.)
Once inside, the Brunette is strapped to a horizontal frame. Her wrists and ankles are secured with leather cuffs, with legs spread wide. The camera gives us a view from beneath; the frame allows a girl's ample breasts to dangle freely. The female officer (Alexandra Wolf) announces a sentence of 50 strokes and takes a photograph of the girl's face and bottom - presumably, for the album we have seen in the flash-back sequence at the start of the film. The male officer (Maxmilian Schubert) then steps up to administer the punishment with a straight cane in his gloved hand. As the strokes fall, the girl starts screaming right away. The circling camera gives us plenty of face shots and a view of her bottom from different angles, including a between-the-legs shot which her position easily allows; we can also watch her terrified sister at the wall, and gloomy parents, who are avoiding watching. The female officer pauses the punishment and orders them to watch carefully. Trademark Lupus stripes soon appear on the girl's bottom, and her cries grow hysterical. The officer allows the cane to wrap slightly; the skin is broken in several places. There is a beautiful shot of the girl's form reflecting in the officer's sun-glasses. The position allows some wiggling, which the girl does as much as she can. The cane breaks several strokes before the end of the punishment, and is replaced with another from a rack on the wall. In the end, the female officer takes post-punishment photographs; she has to lift the sobbing girl's face up by the chin. The girl is allowed to stand up, and is made to thank the System for protecting her.
Then it's the Redhead's turn. This time we get to watch her being strapped to the frame. She is quite a lot taller, so the ankle straps go over the full part of her calves, obviously pinching the skin. She is already crying, even as the female officer takes the photographs. She starts screaming at the first few strokes, and her nose is visibly running. Her sister, who is standing in the corner with her whipped bottom to the room, is pressing her hands to her ears. The male officer allows the cane to wrap quite a lot more, with the tip biting way into the girl's side. There are plenty of shots of the girl's tear-stained, contorted face and dripping nose, as well as her heavily marking bottom. This scene is not for the faint-hearted. (Your faithful reviewer felt compelled to fast-forward through it at a few points.) Through the screaming, the parents whisper to each other, wondering whether both girls had actually been at fault, but are admonished by the female officer. The Redhead screams at the top of her lungs even when the strokes are not landing, and is barely coherent in the end, as her pictures are taken. As the girls are crying in the corner, the parents are made to fingerprint the punishment protocol, and are threatened with more severe measures if the misdeeds are repeated in the future.
A long epilogue would have been anti-climactic, and so Lupus keep it short and sweet. In the kitchen, father suggests that he and mother recite their catechism. With her head on his shoulder and her face empty, mother recites the slogans. Meanwhile, in the shower, the Redhead's hand strays to her nipple, but, in panic, she directs a stream of water onto her head and begins to chant frantically: "System can't be violated", over and over again. Water streams over her face, like tears. Her voice echoes, joined by other voices, over the final shot of the Earth from space, in the light of the setting sun.
DVD extras: screen-shot gallery, the making-of gallery; a 2 minutes 30 seconds bonus clip of the Brunette's shower in all its wet, soapy glory and with straying fingers, with an occasional slow-motion moment as the camera savours her pleasure-contorted face.
In a nutshell: If hard punishment is your thing, watch this: the canings in this film are one of the most severe punishment sequences out of any Lupus film. If it isn't particularly your thing, but you like a good plot and lots of suspense, watch it anyway, and fast-forward through the caning. If you like strong acting in your erotica, this film is a must: Lupus have extracted some amazing acting out of their performers. If you are a science fiction geek, you probably don't see a lot of erotica which caters to you, so you definitely have no right to miss this. If you are into uniforms - there are plenty of lovely original designs here. Don't miss it, because, when it's declared to be a classic of CP film, you'll be sorry you did.
The Noise is an outstanding production that defies easy definition. It demonstrates Lupus Picture's ability to go beyond the CP genre to make a complex film with many layers of meaning. The plot is clearly inspired by George Orwell's (Eric Blair) novel 1984, and wonderfully incorporates CP into this multi-layered film. 'The Noise" refers to the chaos inherent in our post-modern society. There seems to have been a calamity of apocalyptic proportions. As human society re-structured it sought to reduce "the noise" through the complete control of all human interactions. The film features the impressive talents of Katerina Tetova (Stalin, the Nightmare) and red-haired Ester Slaba (Too Many Fathers, the Governess) as two young girls experiencing their sexual awakening under the unremitting scrutiny of the state. Also turning in strong performances were Tina Skodova and Johan Burner as the parents of the two emerging sexual butterflies. Miss Skodva's performance was intensely moving as the anguished mother secretly yearning for the days before "The System" took over all aspects of society. The eerie sound track by Johan Buner added much to set the tone for this fantastic work of erotic art.
The movie opens with "newsreel" style coverage of a future calamity that did away with the world as we now know it and replaced it with "The System". Under the system there is little chaos, all is controlled and safe, yet humans are forced to live lives without spontaneity or passion.
We are introduced to the films protagonist and symbols of hope, brunette Katerina Tetova and red-haired Ester Slaba, two young adults who are having difficulty in controlling the chaos that arises from emerging sexual desire.
We experience several scenes of the two daughters going about their daily life, including scenes of them undressing for bed or taking long revealing showers. At night, the girl's often struggled to suppress their carnal urges but this was beyond their power. As their hands found the moistness between their legs an alarm would sound alerting the parents and "The System" to the presence of this chaotic behavior.
On one epically horrific night, a flashing red light and siren awakened the parents. The parents go into the girl's room and the System reports "Increased heart rate and body moisture detected in resting place". The parents accuse their daughter's of the sin of masturbation but the girls deny it. . When the parents leave the room, the father, out of fear, says they should report "unauthorized contact" but the mother replies that she is not that heartless.
The next evening, at dinner the family is in the process of repeating the usual system propaganda when the Mother, out of fear and frustration for her daughter's proclaims "the System protects itself from the System"! The father, in a complete state is disbelief said "do you know what you have done?" The System notices, the wall monitor goes red, starts beeping and two guards enter and the mother is taken away.
At some point during the following day the mother returns, holding her head in her hands and wearing a large red triangle on her jacket that reads "all Noise is eliminated". That night, as the family prepares for sleep, the father says to his spouse, "the girls are like you". Soon the red light comes on again because one or both of the girls had been masturbating. The system demands that corrective action be taken". Both girls reluctantly confess sins against the system to their father.
Soon, both girls and their parents are in the dark lobby outside the Correction Room. The girls hear the cries of another girl being punished in the within the room of behavioral remediation. Ester covers her ears and soon both girls break down sobbing. The punished girl leaves the room sobbing. Then two, brusque, correction officers enter the lobby and tell the two girls to undress. Both correction officers wear dark sunglasses.
The girls are forced to strip in front of their parents and tormentors. This was a humiliation to both the girls and their "neglectful" parents. Soon, Katerina is tied to a metal correction table with her legs well spread and told she will receive 50 strokes of the cane.
The long caning features wonderful close-ups of this beautiful girl's tormented face, as she is lashed across her bottom and thighs with the implement of correction. As the daughter was being punished the parents were required to watch and listen as their two daughters are punished so that they too will learn from the experience. Standing naked in the corner, Ester viewed the fate that would soon be hers.
Soon, Ester is tied down. As Ester begins to cry out from the cane, her sister standing in the corner, her face wet with tears of pain and humiliation, was forced to watch her sister endure the unendurable. At the conclusion of their punishments the two, tearful, sisters thanked the system for its benevolence.
'The Noise' is successful as both an erotic film and as an indictment of the repressive regimes everywhere. This film is an experience in CP erotica that is unique, entertaining and thought provoking.