Here we have the film that was heavily promoted as “Norway’s first splatter film ever”, which is not really true. But I can at least agree that this is the first Norwegian splatter film that got a wide DVD distribution, which was quite a unique thing in a small, tiny country like Norway. This is almost twenty years ago. Time flies.
The film starts with Mother Earth having sex, and a young man in his twenties (Martin Loke) then pops out from a vagina located at the earth’s grassy surface, while the sun shines on a hot, ordinary summer day. A monk-like creature comes along and cuts the umbilical cord as the new-born screams like a schizophrenic mental patient. He then suddenly wears a suit, and has a suitcase handcuffed to his arm as he gets thrown into the society. He follows a pathway and meets a random guy. While they have a beer, he tells our new-born a life lesson-story about how evil society is if you don’t kneel to the authority, and conform to the social norm in a perfect sheep mentality. All forms of outcasts and those who dear to think freely are seen as serious threat to the society, and they get hunted down and killed by the military under orders of The King himself. As the story goes on with a tirade of amateurish, messy, incoherent scenes, including a scene with a guy getting a bottle stuffed in his butthole, you start to wonder what the hell you’re really watching.
The acting is unbelievably, ridiculously, bafflingly bad, and is the funniest thing about the movie. And the dialogue was sloppily dubbed in post-production, which doesn’t synchronize at all. It’s reeks of amateur-hour all the way, and the “humour” is on the cringiest middle school level. Director and screenwriter Martin Loke is a huge fan of Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” which reflects in the effects and some of the camera work. But when Bad Taste had its own style and energy to it, this comes across as the drunken poor man’s version. With a budget of 600,000 Norwegian kroner (approx. $ 68,3348), the film should at least look better. I suspect that most of the budget went to municipal goods like military stuff and access to certain restricted locations. And almost like there wasn’t any budget for a half-decent soundtrack, the score is primarily filled with classical music from Beethoven, which just feels completely out of place and makes the movie even weirder. The “Actors” are mainly friends and family of Martin Loke, who mostly give the impression of standing in front of the camera as a big favor they would never do again. The political and social statements Martin Loke is trying to make us reflect on is for sure more relevant today than it was twenty years ago. But aside from that, this is nothing but a demented, bizarre and messy oddball of a movie which will guarantee some great laughs for sure. Some of them unintentionally, of course.
The most impressive thing about “Bread and Circus” is that Martin Loke showed it at the Cannes Film Festival of all places, and sold it to seven countries. How he actually managed to do that with a film like this, God knows. But, okay, I give him my respect for that. The film was later given a 10-year anniversary edition from the Nordic Another World Entertainment with some extras. A U.S. release is also available at Amazon.com.
Director: Martin Loke
Original title: Brød & Sirkus
Country & year: Norway, 2003
Actors: Oliver Boullet, Miriam Johansson, Martin Loke, Magne Jahrestein, Silje Andresen, Benjamin Rørstad, Lars Torp, Lars Erik Ringstad Nordrum, Lise Løke, Hilde Løke, Fredrik Løke, Frank Løke, Eivind Pedersen, Andre Iversen, Vegar Bakke