A Means to an End: Challenging the Notion of 'Torture Porn' in the French Film 'Martyrs' (2011)
Type of ContentJournal Article
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury. School of Humanities and Creative Arts
University of Canterbury. English
- Arts: Journal Articles 
For the last decade, the horror genre has been populated with films more realistically violent and graphic in their gore than almost anything else fictional and legal. Films featuring brutal murders, dismemberments, debasements and tortures have flourished, bringing torture from the paracinematic fringe into the mainstream. As these films have become more prolific, the intensity of their images has increased as filmmakers seek to outdo one another. While Anglophone films dominate what is known as the 'torture porn' genre, they have been joined by a small but significant group of French horror films that have stood out for their bleak, gritty presentation and their realistic and sadistic violence. A recent addition to the genre, the controversial French film Martyrs (dir. Pascal Laugier, 2008) sits as both an excellent example and a critique of the genre. While it is extremely violent and unapologetically nihilistic, it can also be read as a challenge to audiences, for through its careful use of subjectivity, its aesthetic choices, and its focus upon the mechanics of torture, it asks us exactly how far we are willing to go in our quest for cinematic excess, and to what end.
CitationHarrington, E. (2011) A Means to an End: Challenging the Notion of 'Torture Porn' in the French Film 'Martyrs'. OCULUS: Postgraduate Journal for Visual Arts Research, (3), pp. 9-16.
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ANZSRC Fields of Research36 - Creative arts and writing::3605 - Screen and digital media::360501 - Cinema studies
47 - Language, communication and culture::4702 - Cultural studies::470214 - Screen and media culture
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