Vase de Noces (literally "wedding vase", known in English as "wedding trough") is a 1974 Belgian arthouse film directed by Thierry Zéno. Confined to a handful of film festivals for over three decades, with the curious forced to turn to a shabby bootleg torrent in order to witness it, nobody in the world would know this film existed were it not for the scenes in it in which a man sodomizes a pig.
Oh boy... how does one explain what this film is about? First things first, there is no dialogue in it, with the only sound being ambient farm noises, eerie church choir chanting, and some bizarre electrically-generated bleeps and bloops. For this reason, everything in it is left to interpretation... on a farm in what some speculate may be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a lone, unnamed farmer (played by Dominique Garny) who may be the last man on earth lives with his sow. Amidst his daily activities, which include slotting the heads of dolls onto the heads of doves, and collecting what appears to be vegetable matter in jars for no apparent reason, the farmer falls in love with the sow. Although this love by all appearances seems to be unrequited, given the common title of the film and the aforementioned scene, it should be obvious where this eventually leads.
The sow gives birth to a litter of what are presumably human/pig hybrids (though they resemble ordinary piglets). The farmer attempts to raise these as civilized humans, knitting clothes for them and trying to teach them proper table manners, but he is unable to, and so... he hangs them. (And whilst the pig-fucking is simulated, said hanging of the piglets is not; and as people have pointed out, it is probably this, frankly, and not the pig-fucking that is the most reprehensible aspect of the film.) When the sow finds her offspring dead, she throws a fit and drowns herself. When the farmer finds her, he goes insane. He attempts to bury himself alongside her, and upon failing, he empties the contents of the jars he has been collecting and fills them with his own feces and urine instead. He then makes and consumes tea out of said feces and urine. Finally, he props up a ladder that appears to be supported in midair, and hangs himself. The end.
In 2009 the amazing, the unthinkable happened. The film was actually given an official DVD release by the German and Swedish companies Camera Obscura and Njuta Films. And according to blogs, said DVD contains an accompanying documentary in which the director and actor explain what the meaning of all this is. Though baffled viewers may be pleased to have their questions answered after 35 odd years, something tells us that the release isn't going to go down too well in the United Kingdom, Australia or the Islamic World... or anywhere else for that matter.
This film provides examples of:
- After the End: The director has implied that the setting is this.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: According to the director, this is what happens to the farmer when the pig dies and when he commits suicide.
- The Aloner: The protagonist is the sole non-animal character in the film, and possibly the only human alive given the above interpretation.
- Banned in China: The film was shown at film festivals in Australia until moral guardians ordered it be submitted to the OFLC (Australia's equivelant of the MPAA) whom subsequently declared it obscene and outlawed it. It remains banned there to this day, and is also in New Zealand according to IMDB. The DVD release will likely be banned in Britain and other countries as well, as said above.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: The most well-known scene in the film.
- Buried Alive: The farmer discovers that this is a less than adequate way of killing oneself.
- Driven to Suicide: The pig, then the farmer.
- Fan Nickname: Once again according to the blogs, in the aforementioned documentary Thierry and Dominique are very cautious never to mention the film's aforementioned common title amongst its myriad of names.
- Hollywood Autism: According to the creators, the farmer is autistic.
- Le Film Artistique: The film practically embodies this stereotype, from the subject matter's impenetrable weirdness to the cinematography and incredibly slow pacing.
- Leave the Camera Running: More or less the entire movie. The opening scene of the farmer sticking dolls' heads onto doves lasts for about 3 minutes; and the scene of him eating his shit lasts for almost half an hour, nearly a third of the movie.
- Mind Screw: Again, lots and lots of (ambiguously meaningful) symbolic imagery.
- Offing the Offspring: Poor little piglets.
- Silence Is Golden: There is no dialogue.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- A female opera singer melodically hollering in the background as the farmer vomits his own freshly-consumed fecal matter out again.
- Also, the scenes of the farmer slotting the dolls' heads onto doves, and of him cooking and eating his shit, and of chickens idly sitting around looking at things and doing nothing, are accompanied by epic-sounding chanting and organ music. What the hell?!