„A journey into the heart of Bangland, a city in a dystopian America now under the presidency of Steven Spielberg, who has declared war on the African nation Mahaba, thereby launching his own war on terror, the gist being that anyone who isn’t white is a potential terrorist.“
This first sentence of the teaser-text for Bangland, an animation movie by Lorenzo Berghella, should honestly be enough to get you excited about it. So just start praying that this 60-minutes-gem reaches cinemas outside Italy already! Well, that was a bit short of a review, so here’s a short reply to some negative criticism of what is actually the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the Festival so far.
Bangland is a superviolent, cynical and uncompromising ride through all kinds of filth. Just because the animation looks like it were done on Microsoft Paint, that doesn’t mean you don’t recognize somebody smashing in someone’s head with a hammer, especially since the sound design is done really well. If you are not up for strong and graphic themes like drug use, pedophelia or violent racism, you can stop praying now. However, I have heard some complaints calling Bangland an immature glorification of violence, something that I strongly disagree on.
You see, the film is not subtle at all – it revels in its violence and in its style for most of the time. The thing is, the reason for that is the subject it is tackling: Bangland is a commentary on US-American hypocricy, cruelty and sinfullness of the last 65 years: A gangster is so busy killing pedophiles because of his daughter that he misses her 5th (!) birthday on his revenge spree; the war on African terror turns every person of colour into a victim of police brutality, while white people pay black hitmen to kill for them and frame it as an act of terrorism; a war veteran shoots down people in the street after seeing a movie glorifying violence.
So, why is Bangland so loud, shiny and seems so hypocritical itself? Because it uses nothing but imagery from the last 65 years of Hollywood to tell its story. From small references like a C-3PO licens plate or Depper Dan Pomade from Oh brother where art thou, over Hollywood personalities starring in the film, like Bill Murray as a telepreacher who sends Christians on a quest to murder all heretics or Morgan Freeman as a pedophile, to directly copying iconic scenes from US cinema. Berghella slightly twists those scenes, giving them a disturbing and repelling quality, and connects them to draw his hyperstylised picture of decay. The reason for Bangland being so over the top lies in the bloated, cheesy and smug material it draws from. That is not childish nor pretentious, but a very smart way of deconstructing Hollywood society with its own excrement. Awesome.