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MGM should not have cut the original scenes from this masterpiece. Especially the scenes clearly indicating the "normalness" of the so-called freaks and the inhumane-ness of the normal people. After, all, it is only an accident of birth that we are who we are.
Bizarre and Fascinating film.
A lady trapeze artist violates the code of the side show when she plots to murder her midget husband. Director :Tod Browning. Stars: Wallace Ford, Olga Baclanova, Leila Hyams, Harry Earles, Roscoe Ates, Johnny Eck, Daisy and Violet Hilton, Prince Randian, Zip and Pip, Schlitze.
Freaks is an outstanding pre-code film. Setting is a traveling sideshow and the camaraderie of its unusual performers, goaded to vengeance by cruel trapeze star "Olga Baclanova". Good acting and direction . The question is who are the real "freaks" the persons with the deformities or those who may look normal or handsome but are "freakish" in their inner thoughts and behavior to others. Great film recommend it highly . Not a film for the squemish.
Strange,very very strange.
This is a great movie. It is actually a public domain movie but Warner has claimed it for its own and is getting away with it, it is not theirs and is in public domain.
Freaks is an examination of the people who make up a typical circus sideshow. It does a lot to humanize these unique individuals. It shows that they are normal people like us with love, jealousy, and every other emotion. This is a style of movie that works well for me, and can be told about any number of minorities that are treated like second-class citizens. I definitely appreciated that Freaks took a less-traveled path of exploring the lives of the sideshow folks. It also explores the code they have among themselves to look out for one another. Most of the plot centers around a dwarf named Hans who falls for the charms of a trapeze artist that wants to use him for his money. I struggled at times figuring out who was in the club of “freaks” and who was outside of it. At first, I thought they were all loyal to one another, but then there is this dividing line created and certain people mock the sideshow folks. I assume it has something to do with people inside the tent versus those outside, but the movie didn’t make it clear enough for my taste. Because it was Tod Browning’s vision to highlight the real people involved in a sideshow, the cast is loaded with dwarfs and many people with physical abnormalities. What I couldn’t decide is whether the film did enough to normalize these characters, or if it was just using them for spectacle like an actual sideshow of “freaks.” While a couple of the dwarfs are vital to the plot, most of the other people were just featured in short scenes that had little or nothing to do with the plot. It felt like they were just being paraded in front of us so we could be amazed by them for a moment. The other problem with casting these real-life people is that most of them cannot act. There is a lot of flat line delivery, and it does a disservice to the people involved. I think a documentary would be a more respectful way to approach the topic, and then we could meet the people for real instead of seeing them flatly trying to play a character. Freaks does have a decent story, so I didn’t mind it that much, but there was a better idea underlying the whole thing that was executed poorly.
It's a movie that they would never let be made today due to exploitation "rules", which makes it even more special. It may not be everyones cup of tea. I found it to be very interesting and entertaining. There are definitely some creepy scenes that give you goosebumps. The plot is different and entertaining.
A classic of pre-Code cinema, Tod Browning's 'Freaks' is populated with a broad cast of real-life carnival performers and those with deformities, and the effect is striking. We see the armless, legless, and completely limbless. We see conjoined twins, a 'human skeleton', and microcephalics (so-called 'pinheads'). We see a 'bird girl' and a 'stork woman' (who we find out later had Virchow-Seckel syndrome). And we see some of the more conventional carnival acts: a bearded lady, a half-man/half-woman, a fire-eater, and a sword-swallower.
We never see them performing in front of an audience; instead all of the action in the film is behind the scenes, and the effect is humanizing. We see life from their perspective, and that they face the same relationship issues that the rest of society face. We watch the film perhaps voyeuristically because of the deformities and differences, but it's to Browning's credit that they are shown sympathetically. A caretaker for a group which includes the three microcephalics chides a couple of guys who react in horror, pointing out they're just children who are playing in the sun. A little person (Harry Earles) points out that most 'big people' laugh at him, because "they don't realize that I'm a man with the same feelings they have." It's telling that the real 'freaks' in the story are two "normal people", a trapeze artist (Olga Baclanova) and her strong-man boyfriend (Henry Victor), who play on Earles' emotions, and then plot to kill him for his money.
There are several truly memorable scenes, starting with Prince Randian, "The Human Torso", an armless and legless performer in a tight one-piece garment making him appear like a caterpillar, manipulating a cigarette and a matchbox with ease, and fluidly giving himself a light. Another is when the performers are all drinking at a wedding and chanting "One of us, one of us, Gooble gobble, Gooble gobble, We accept her, we accept her, One of us, one of us" riotously, until Baclanova erupts in disgust and calls them all freaks. The look of hurt in their eyes, and shame in Earles' face is heart-rending. However, nothing can top the circus performers crawling through the mud, with revenge in their eyes. The extended sequence that this led to was so disturbing that the film's 90 minute run-time had to get cut down to just 64, and it's a real shame that the original is lost. Great film, from a great director.
WHY THE HELL does everyone think this movie is so great? I hated it, i thought that it was so long and annoying!
Hmmm...this is a tough one to talk about on a critical level.
1932's "Freaks" is an oddball short film (1 hour long!), but not for its obvious use of circus performers and deformity as a message, but for how it structures itself in telling its short story. A story that, to be honest, does not warrant one to see it again and again. I'm also left confused with what it was trying to say because of its odd approach to story telling.
I'm glad to have seen this curious piece of film history, but I don't think it will appeal to many who aren't film buffs.
Would have liked to see the full version. As for the "Freaks" - they're not scary at all. I imagine back in those days it was as they never saw a disabled person before but nowadays we see much more revolting pictures e.g. of rare diseases with a simple google search. Still, the story was good imo.