Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Breaking Point of Bo Arne Vibenius (Updated!)

While hanging in Sweden both Fred Anderson and myself were totally taken by our screening of the follow up to Thriller-A Cruel Picture, Breaking Point. Bo Arne watched the film with us and had lots of interesting comments to make. The film itself is a CRAZY "pornographic thriller" as the original title claims. Here is a synopsis of the film and I'll follow up with some other facts in the next post. Also, here is a truly awesome poster image. This movie will have a more limited audience than Thriller-A Cruel Picture as it is loaded with hardcore acts involving gear shifts and penis fly trapping-but I think it is an amazingly cool cult item. Even with some wonky English dialog (delivered in "English isn't my mother tongue" fashion), combined with both the content and commercial results of Thriler, it is a fascinating slab of sick and twisted Swedish Sin.

If I had the chance again, as I did with Thriller, to be asked-which one film would you want to release Mr. Z, it would be this one.  Hey DVD companies, get it done!  You'll be showing some balls (for real) by grabbing these ghoulies!                     Breaking Point... A Synopsis of Swedish Sin

Opening on a sinister looking eye watching an elevator fall in a darkened hall, the camera cuts to a woman in the supermarket. Already the audience knows the mundane everyday world of shopping and carrying groceries is about to be destroyed in her world. And it is. Brutally attacked by an unseen assailant, the scene contains forced sex as well as truly visceral bludgeoning violence.  This isn't comfort zone cinema....this is Breaking Point.

The first word of the film is uttered as we meet our "protagonist"Bob Bellings at work. An unassuming presence at his office desk, the nerdish Bellings checks and stamps papers with grim robotic precision and a donut glaze over his eyes. Those same eyes light up as a woman passes by however and he only says one thing. It's a simple sentiment that permeates the entire film with an attitude of misogyny that permeates every frame.

Obviously, this guy has a problem with women. He spends a lot of his day objectifying them at one turn, and humiliating them at others.

 Bob watches as a news broadcast talks of the rape and violence perpetrated by some "bastard illegal citizen" (according to the police officer being interviewed) and alternates dreamily between watching the women in the office and staring down his female coworkers as the television gives the ladies of Stockholm some advice.
"Keep calm and let him do what he wants. Worse comes to worse you'll only get raped."
Also the "well researched" statistic that 89 percent of women have rape fantasies is interpreted into that the rapist is simply giving most women what they want...but the cops do request that he stop killing them!
While there are strange and weird scenes all through the film, this bit may be the weirdest.  Putting us firmly in the head of the insane office man, he garners permission from the television for his actions/fantasy play at every turn.  Is any of this "real"--has Bellings done anything?  I don't think so.  But as the Swedish equivalent of a salaryman, his imagination wanders and his hatred grows and grows. 

Not exactly a feminist tract so far now is it?

The women of the office flirt with Bob right after this is mentioned, because in Breaking Points world NOTHING gets a woman horny like rape talk. Well, at least 89 percent of them. He can not process this though, and instead of lust taking over for Bob, the only obvious reaction he expresses is rage.

He takes this feeling with him away from the office and into the streets. More stalking, more raping ensues. But...does it?
The woman appears again...and from a simple meeting on a stairway--

Bellings moves through the fog of fantasy and utters "Undress you."  He gets what he wants in a strange power trip that moves from surprise to consensual porno sex.

The rapes become more and more carnal events as the women give into Bellings-allowing him any and every position he can imagine, and welcome him to kiss the semen from their faces after he is finished. He also fantasizes the rapes again in strange sequences that involve a fly landing on a large penis and being painfully flicked off.  OUCH!!

Amidst all these afternoon activities, he spends time alone at home, building model trains and fantasizing intently on his post job antics.
For some reason he will not turn his rage on the women at work, and does so in the most passive aggressive way he can. Yep, by masturbating into a cup and spiking the coffee of a woman that beats him down (at least verbally). His plan is thwarted as she adjusts to the taste and enjoys it. More rage and venting on those outside the building ensues.

Now things get weird!

A law has been passed according to the ever present television narration...all citizens MUST carry a gun, and can just go pick it up at any weapons shop. So Bob does, and he also takes some police issue "fragmentation" ammo from a rabid gun dealer who wants to see the streets "cleaned up." After a few test shots, it would seem the bullets will leave a huge mess of anything it hits.  This scene is a crazed Rambo scene for the common man that is a combination of sweaty and sick and hilariously descriptive of the filmmakers understanding of a "commercial venture" when it comes to movies!  Look for Thriller-A Cruel Picture veteran Per-Axel Arosenius as the gun dealer.  If you thought that Thriller was interested in showing military training, this is like the Swedish Strike Commando training!

And then he picks up a child... and I'll leave it to you to see what happens.  If Vibenius contributes to the cinema of discomfort, this sequence in the context of the film outdoes the corpse eyeball shattering of Thriller with ease.  Teeth clenchingly tense, the outcome is perhaps the only sign of relief for the insanity of Bob Bellings, the last hope of the filmmaker.  If you have ever seen Vibenius' childrens film Hur Marie Traffade Fredrik you know that he has some rather interesting ideas of what is commercial and acceptable for kids.  Jeez.

Of course Bob also the fantasy woman again, and now she wants to suck him and fuck his car's gearshift before our hapless anger avatar is kidnapped by robbers, taking away his power. Shifting gears with the still drying fluids on it, Breaking Point suddenly becomes an action film... and the whole experience unravels until the final twist is revealed. Bellings is shown for exactly what he is and the audience is left to either scratch their heads or be left in awe. Now we are left to gather what is real, imagined and wished for in each and every scene of coupling carnage.

 The dialog in this scene is one of the highlights to me--as Bellings is kidnapped by the funniest "JIVE MOTHERS" ever to walk into Sweden!   There is a sense of humor in Breaking Point, though I'm not sure this is supposed to be one of them...

Bo Arne Vibenius' BREAKING POINT started life as a completely different project. After the disappointing returns of Thriller-A Cruel Picture, even with the films success with AIP in the United States, the filmmaker was looking to try again with AB Audiovisual to create a profitable and commercial film.
You may remember that Thriller-A Cruel Picture was "commercial" according to the filmmaker. Breaking Point certainly is not. That is because the follow up to Thriller was to be financed by the government of Sweden in a money matching program. When the matched private financing fell by the wayside, Vibenius and crew were forced to scramble something together. This bizarro alternate world futureshock porn thriller was the result! Fueled by nervous energy and the unending desire to film something...anything... with the government grant, the script was pounded out in two days. Vibenius really lucked out to have his talented Director Of Photography, Andreas Bellis, agree to take up the lead role. His talent is a huge part of Thriller and Vibenius' success-and luckily he also had another large, yet mostly hidden, talent in his pants he would be willing to flaunt and flick a fly off. Bellis is excellent in the film-lifting it up (or down as the case may be) into dementia even during the silliest sequences.

Andreas Bellis setting up a shot for THRILLER-A CRUEL PICTURE
Truly an odd film worth looking at, Breaking Point is an important piece in the puzzle of Bo Arne Vibenius' cinema. Breaking Point's harrowed "hero" cum rapist cum adventurer slash fantasy hero, Bob Bellings, feels a bit like an avatar for a man that can't seem to get what he wants-no matter how fantastic his talent. At the end of the film when Bellings utters the line "Nothing ever happens in this shitty town" the frustration is palpable.  I think there is a metaphor here that works for Vibenius, who feels as if his business deals and lack of success have been laid upon him by shifty accountants and ne'er do well distributors.  Bellings is revealed in the end to just be away from his family for a short time, and he fantasizes a weird regrowth and adult vengeance at the same time.  He plays with his toy trains when he feels like it. He hears what he wants. He gets all the girls first by showing his power and then by their uncontrolled lust for him...he plays with his sex and screeches and laughs like a small child.  And yes, he even gets to be a hero, blowing up bad guys and helicopters and in the end, he gets his life back.  His family.

Sitting with Bo Arne and viewing this was an odd experience for sure. Just as Bellings used his time away from his family to immerse himself in a strange fantasy (or blurry reality), he comes crashing back to his humdrum reality-so must it be to come off of making a film that those responsible pin all of their hopes upon, yet never reach the success they both truly, and feel in their hearts, deserve.

Making a fantastic cult film and watching it wade in obscurity for decades was a real pain I'm sure... and when it does come back to the mainstream consciousness, I'm sure that it was hard as well.  Recently THRILLER received a theatrical showing in Sweden.  As someone that feels kind of close to the film and the man behind it (though he would probably just as soon fling me off a roof as speak to me), it made me a bit sad to hear that he did not attend. His children did, and that makes me think of Breaking Point all the more.  Bo Arne Vibenius is a true talent, and a singular one at that, but I believe that his Bob Bellings is very present, if not real. 

Breaking Point is mired in Pseudonyms-and with good reason. It also bears the distinction of having Anton Karras playing the Third Man theme, re-interpolated into the "Head Theme" in the films credits by the ever brilliant Ralph Lundsten. Breaking Point is aurally the equal of Thriller-A Cruel Picture. According to the composer and director, Anton Karas arrived at Lundsten's studio with his Zither and played his most famous song a few times. Those sounds form the basis of the weird score and set the tone for everything that happens to a weird soundscape that is even more effective than Thriller-A Cruel Picture provides.  Lundsten again leaves nothing untouched, not content to just create space with his tones and rhythms, but he grabs dialog and makes it feel even more stilted and bizarre than it already does!  There is a full on kaliediscope of penetration and car crashing near the end of the film that is a masterwork of the sound and vision elements coming together...you have to get your own to see that my friends.

Filmed in Stockholm and released in 1975-and again banned by Swedish Censors outright, you have to see this Swedish Sinema to believe it. Breaking Point is a fantastic film, and an interesting one as well...hopefully it will see a genuine release someday soon. While I have never seen paperwork regarding any kind of masters, Vibenius told us that he lost the film masters to a New York City distributor many years ago. That should be a hurdle to overcome for any interested licensor! The film is so utterly bizarre that I could see it still being a viable release if done quickly-load that transfer up with commentary (I would go over to Sweden in a heartbeat and wear a wig like a Beastie Boy in a 70s parody in a second) and the market will come.

Also, if you are in Stockholm and feel like visiting one of the famous buildings in the film, Bob Bellings works at the Werner-Gren Institute... check it out. Just don't drink the coffee!!

Finally, here is a list of pseudonyms I've been able to penetrate so far. Anyone with more information on this film, please contact me-I'm always eager to learn more about Bo Arne Vibenius and his work!

-Stan Kowalski (producer Bo Arne Vibenius)
-Ron Silberman Jr. (Director Bo Arne Vibenius)
-Anton Rothchild (Star/DP Andreas Bellis)
-Adam De Loup (Andreas Bellis)
-TURBOman (stunt driving-I can't confirm this yet, but I suspect this is Lars Lundgren)
-Per-Axel Arosenius (Gun Dealer)
-Urban Hitler (special effects-no idea who this is, I just love that name!!)

Sex Stars System coverage of Breaking Point!  What a bizarre find.  Bo Arne Vibenius did claim that the film showed for YEARS in France. 


SPAM Alternative said...

this is a great flick, I also posted a review of it on my blog some time ago. I second that idea of a re-relase.

Ninja Dixon said...

Great article as usual! I haven't seen this movie since we saw it with Bo-Arne, but I need to give it a new spin soon.

Wenner-Gren center is still a popular place to shoot movies and TV-commercials by the way, I've been involved in three shoots there so far in my career :)

I think Per-Axel was an great actor, and I still think is spectacular suicide (he burned himself in front of the IRS) is extremely tragic. Everything just because they think he became rich from appearing in a Hitchcock-movie!

Bellis is a great guy, he still knows Swedish!

David A. Zuzelo said...

That is so cool about Wenner-Gren Fred, I'd do a triple take upon visiting I think.

I knew that Per-Axel had committed suicide, but not the circumstance! That is very sad indeed, he had a great presence.

I didn't post anything hardcore, though it certainly was a thought-not so much out of sensibility, but more for Bellis I guess. We had contact way back around 2002, but I have to admit my burnout / disappointment from the way things turned out with Thriller sort of stepped in, no reason to share that with one of the filmmakers. I'd love to interview him about this film someday, that is, if he would chat about it!

Thanks for popping in Fred, one of the highlights of my cinematic life was that day in Vibenius' little flat.

Biff Zongo said...

Oh man I want that poster (or at least a copy of it) so bad!
One of Hans Arnolds best posters!