Princess (2006)
By: Paul Ryan on March 19, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). Danish DD 5.1, Danish DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 77 minutes
The Movie
Director: Anders Morgenthaller
Starring: Thure Lindhardt, Stine Fischer Christensen, Mira Hallund
Screenplay: Anders Morgenthaler, Mette Heeno
Country: Denmark
There are some movies that will automatically polarise audiences, and Princess is one of them. A unique combination of animation and live-action, Anders Morgenthaller's film is at times breathtakingly beautiful in its visuals, but for some it's extremely dark subject matter will be an instant turn-off.

August (Thure Lindhardt) returns home after a few years absence, having worked abroad as a missionary priest. He haas come home to sort out the affairs of his estranged sister Christina (Stine Fischer Christensen), who has recently died from a drug overdose. Much to August's chagrin, Christina had been working as porn actress - a very popular one - under the name Princess. Left with the custody of her five-year-old daughter Mia (Mira Hallund), August struggles to come to terms with his sister's death. Moreover and his own feelings of responsibility in the path that led her to porn and drugs weigh heavily on him. Worse still is his realisation that Mia has been exposed to far, far too much of her mother's lifestyle, exhibiting taboo behaviours considerably beyond her years. Still finding Christina's image plastered over magazines everywhere, August resolves to destroy every last trace of Princesses existence. Inevitably, August's quest turns violent, with the impressionable Mia only too willing to help out…

If Takashi Miike made an animated feature, its possible it would resemble something like Princess. It's just as morally transgressive as the more extreme of Miike's work, and similarly thoughtful at the same time. The execution however, is all Morgenthaller's own. Certain characters and points in time are depicted solely in animation, others in live action. Some key animated moments are hand drawn, others purely CG. The live action is a combination of flat, grainy video and lusturous film. This creates an instant distinction between the worlds of August's memory and his present crisis, and is very effective.

The narrative itself is occasionally awkward. Moments involving Christina are depicted through the younger August's obsessive need to videotape everything he sees, a conceit that works initially, but ultimately stretches credibility as heated emotional crises play out. Much is crammed into the film's 80 minute running time, and this leaves some loose ends and unanswered questions (some deliberately ambiguous) along the way. Ultimately, many viewers will have their own concerns about the content involving the young Mia. There are elements of violence and sexual transgression involving the little girl which will prove too much for some, and the R18+ rating is well and truly earned here.
Just stunning. Presented in it's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (and 16x9 enhanced), this is a faultless transfer. Morgenthaller's broad colour palette is rendered faithfully, and his usage of CGI, hand-drawn animation, and live-action video and film all transfer impressively to DVD.
Two Dolby tracks are available here, one in 5.1 and the other in 2.0. Both are crisp and vibrant, particularly during the booming, bass-heavy opening titles.
Extra Features
Trailer (1.39m, 4x3 ws): A short but effective trailer which gives the uninitiated an accurate idea of what to expect.

Madman Propaganda
: Bonus trailers for Dead Man, Demonlover, Blood and Bone, and Russ Meyer's Supervixens. All of these are an appropriate inclusion, given that they occupy similarly transgressive ground.
The Verdict
Juxtaposing rich, often beautiful visuals with often deeply troubling subject matter, Princess is a film which can't be readily dismissed nor easily forgotten. Flawed, but undeniably well-crafted, the film's content will either intrigue or immediately repel. Though disappointingly lacking in extra features, Madman's disc is otherwise first-rate.
Movie Score
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