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A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance. (Warner Bros. UK)

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English A legendary classic, which makes sense to assess in its contemporary context and which, nevertheless, still surprises with the decent craftsmanship of the film crew, direction, and acting performances. In terms of the dramatic plot, it is a relatively conventional matter, but considering the emphasis on the human side of physically disabled individuals and their right to dignity, it is a significant film with an ethical dimension. Overall impression: 80%. ()


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English Tod Browning excels as a storyteller. With a precise psychological brush, he presents to us handicapped beings as people who can love, desire, dream and feel envy. And he triumphs narratively by putting them in conflict with able-bodied people, who are the real “freaks”. However, these are only pieces of a puzzle that, as a whole, does not make a complete cinematic impact on the viewer, who longs for something more than merely seeing something that hasn’t been seen before (e.g. an armless, legless man lighting a cigarette). The plot is rather banal, with a lightweight conclusion. And other than the necessary acknowledgement of Browning’s courage to make something like this in the 1930s, what’s left is only an unusual experience and a subject for a brief discussion. For that reason, I’m not giving Freaks my highest rating. ()



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English I find it quite funny that Browning, after his vehement efforts to explain to the viewer who the real freaks really are, still couldn't resist using the appearance of the performers at the end for the film's most impressive scene. But I would have been tempted, too. I'd love a director's cut, but I don't think I'll get one. In fact, the editing detracts greatly from the film, many scenes don't build on each other, and almost the entire film takes place in one place, so that up until the wedding reception I felt like everything was happening in one day. The Siamese twins are mega-appealing, and along with the bearded lady are my favorite freaks. I actually wish the Freaks actors had a whole series of their own in which they saved the world from ever new supervillains. First they'd mow down an army of formalists and then they'd unleash their super freak powers to deal with the main pretty boy, who would attack them with cutting humor and a distinguished air. And when our heroes killed and ate him at the end of each episode, the torso of the guy rolling a cigarette with his nose would tell a joke. A good one. Like the one where three tomatoes are walkin' down the street.... ()


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English Magical, bizarre outlandishness. And maybe more so now, sixty years later, than at the time of its release. There are so many ideas and originality here that it’s a shame it has such a short running time. It means a lot of leads are left to fizzle out. The result isn’t helped much by the same problem that brought down Dracula the year before. And that’s Browning’s static, uninventive directing. ()


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English Freaks is a perfect example of the saying don't judge a book by its cover, or a physically ("freakishly") disabled person can often be more human than a femme fatale or a beauty. Of course, by casting authentically handicapped people, Tod Browning achieved an unparalleled effect that culminated in the rainy scene during the hunt for Hercules and Cleopatra. It's no wonder that the film caused such a wave of controversy and earned the moniker "one of the most dangerous films ever made". All in all, a very well done piece of filmmaking that got to me profoundly. ()

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