Borgman release in the US on June 6th 2014.
The term “sleep with the fishes” is given a surreal visual interpretation in the dark, haunting drama “Borgman.”
by the Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam, follows the title character
(Jan Bijvoet), a vagrant who, after being shooed out of an underground
lair where he has been living, manipulates his way into the home of an
upper-middle-class family in the Netherlands. During his stay, tensions
flare, eeriness escalates, and body counts rise. It’s a fable about the
way sinister elements can creep into life in surprising ways.
wanted to do something with evil,” Mr. van Warmerdam said, speaking by
phone from Amsterdam. “I wanted to do something with a gun, with a
family, with someone under the ground. And I wanted to do some
strangling in it.” Those loose ideas came together in his screenplay,
which he then extensively storyboarded. He even created sketches and
paintings to give his crew a better idea of the kind of images he wanted
the most striking sequences involve characters who get in the way of
the cryptic but malevolent Borgman. They are murdered, their heads
placed in buckets that are then filled with concrete. Their bodies are
taken to a pond and dropped in, suspended upside down in perpetuity.
I was younger, I’d seen these Chicago gangster movies, and they always
put their victims’ feet in the concrete,” Mr. van Warmerdam said. “But I
thought I’d do it the other way around and put the face in the
concrete, because it would take more time to identify the victims.”
Mr. van Warmerdam’s watercolors of the scene, human bodies look like
odd figurines in a giant aquarium, reflecting both the dreamlike comic
nature of the moment as well as its coldness.
the watercolors served a practical purpose in preproduction, they stem
from Mr. van Warmerdam’s visual arts background. He had wanted to be a
painter since he was 7 and went to art school. He eventually ended up in
theater, painting stage sets before turning to filmmaking in the 1980s.
translating his image to the screen, he had hoped to shoot in a pond or
a river. But the water wasn’t clear enough for readable visuals. “In
the end, it was done in an indoor swimming pool,” he said. “We made a
set on the bottom.”
set was partial and the missing elements, like fish and extra plants,
were added digitally. In the film, the water is murkier than in the
painting, and the visuals are more monochromatic, but the scene retains
the same sense of strangeness.
you have an idea, it always develops during the production into
something different,” Mr. van Warmerdam said. “But it’s familiar to the
thing you had in mind. It’s like when you have a dream, the telling of
the dream is different from the dream itself.”