What is The Martyrs (2008) about?

The painting “Martyrs” by Pascal Laugier was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and caused a mixed reaction from the public. Realistic scenes of torture, detailed depiction of the torment of the main characters and an unusual ending – all this makes the film difficult to perceive, but also arouses interest. The film not only touches on eternal issues, but also gives its own answer in an open ending. Indirectly and cautiously, it encourages reflection on the likelihood of such an outcome.

1. The storyline of the main characters and its specifics.

The story tells about two girls who meet in a monastery shelter as children. Lucy experienced horrific events: torture, violence and abuse at the hands of unknown people. And it is Anna who is trying to help overcome the nightmares and strange images that haunt her friend. Despite the serious deterioration of Lucy’s mental state as she grows older, mutual assistance and support do not disappear. Even when Lucy is looking for the perpetrators of her torment and kills them, Anna, stepping over herself, helps her get rid of the bodies. But due to the vicissitudes of the plot, she herself finds herself in a trap: what awaits her is what her friend experienced.

The key point of revealing the adherents of the organization lies in their blind faith in the idea of ​​life and death. An organization that follows the concept of martyrs is ready to do anything to answer the question of the afterlife, and Anna falls into their hands. At the head of everything is Mademoiselle, who will become a key character in the concept of the author’s thoughts in this cruel motion picture.

2. The role of images of the unknown in the plot.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear what kind of nightmares Lucy has been tormenting all her life. In the escape scene, she, as a child, is unable to save a woman who is begging for help. Guilt takes the form of a monster that hurts the heroine and pushes her onto a path of self-destruction. Which ultimately leads to suicide.
As for the whole theme of the images found in the film, one can say about their bright contrast against the background of sharp naturalism. A detailed display of torture and bullying, the depth of reality of what is happening highlights the mystical component in the overall composition.

The afterlife itself appears to be the complete opposite of the usual canons. The director hints that not everything is as cloudy as humanity dreams, that horrors lurk beyond the line that are hard to imagine. Here we can draw a parallel with the well-known story in Christianity about Jesus Christ, who also plays the role of a martyr. However, his difference is in his voluntary choice and knowledge of what awaits him. The girls, being tortured, become hostages of the situation and step into the unknown in search of deliverance.

3. The concept of martyrs

On the example of the Organization, the viewer discovers the cruel truth about what people are ready for on the path of cognition of being. From the dialogue between Mademoiselle and Anna, it becomes clear that there are several stages in which a person approaches this acceptance of death while still alive. When the soul has already left the body, leaving only an empty, but living shell. One gets the impression of the negative nature of the adherents of the concept, but looking deeper into their goals and motives, you can change your mind. So they embody the inexhaustible curiosity of mankind in exciting philosophical questions that are not ready for the truth, not ready in their desire to reach the desired goal. And on this example, the author gives a detailed concept of our society and human fear of the unknown. Having a result, it is difficult to judge the humanity of the ways to achieve it. This is where the dualism of our existence is revealed.

Finale of the film “Martyrs” (2008)

All the cruelty of the picture, every plot move tirelessly leads to an open denouement. An indirect answer is given to the question of those who suffer: what awaits a person after death? The skill of the director lies in this subtle and elusive summing up – it is impossible to live with this knowledge. The picture leads the viewer to think that not all locked doors need to be opened. What awaits a person after death? The skill of the director lies in this subtle and elusive summing up – it is impossible to live with this knowledge. This proves to us the last dialogue between a member of the Organization and Mademoiselle, who ends the story with her suicide.

And it is these last minutes that will become memorable for the viewer. The picture leads to the reflection that not all locked doors need to be opened. At the end, we see what the film began with: a selection of shots from the childhood of the main characters. Creating a cycle in front of us, the director informs us that the meaning of life is in life itself in its extraordinary diversity. And it is the pursuit of illusion that separates us from the present, which is the main answer to all questions.

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