Toxic Reigns of Resentment opens with a panning shot of a university campus before taking us through a sewer grate. The dank atmosphere then disappears as the lights flash. A screen displays a mishmash of excerpts from the film. In each, the main speakers utter lines with a downtrodden tone that mimics the cadence of a person that has been taken over by feelings of ressentiment. The film’s narrator defines ressentiment, better known as resentment, as “an attitude that one has towards people who have a certain power or a certain set of values that you yourself are unable to acquire or live with.” To deconstruct the concept, we join a roundtable discussion led by academics. In place of a debate, each professor is given time to explain their opinions and conclusions. They are in a dimly lit room in an undisclosed location. Only one professor is ever on camera at a time, letting us closely focus on what he or she is saying. During intervals between arguments news, broadcast clippings segue different topics. Most are from the United States— footage of a Donald Trump rally, a General Motors factory closure, and some local protests. Though the academics’ viewpoints vary, they are all focused on explaining how feelings of resentment affect people’s political behavior.
During the news footage snippets, we see a shadowy figure lingering in the front of the screen. The figure is an interpretive dancer whose physical features are impossible to make out in the dim lighting. The dancer is never named, addressed, or identified. Instead the unidentified performer does a dance for the duration of each news broadcast and disappears when the camera cuts back to the discussion. His carefree and relaxed nature resembles that of a child waking up on a Saturday morning. As the clips devolve from detached news reports into snippets of chaotic protests, the dancer’s body becomes progressively more aggressive. He shifts his routine to match the tone of the news reports, telling a story all on his own.
Toxic Reigns of Resentment is a Political Documentary
Directed by Jurgen Schalflechner and Tim Van den Hoff, The Toxic Reigns of Resentment is the perfect film for those of us who want to learn more about the current political climate. You too may be enthralled both by the discussion and the interpretive dance performance. Even if viewers are not well-versed in politics, the professors break down each concept in layman’s terms. That being said, it is unlikely that people who are uninterested in politics or class dynamics will enjoy the documentary.
For more information or to watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for The Toxic Reigns of Resentment
Directors and Producers: Jurgen Schalflechner and Tim van den Hoff
Choreography: Marleen Hendrickx
Original Music: Smudged Toads
Additional music: Amenra
Camera: Ruben Hamelink
Photos courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author:
Kena McDaniel is a student at Berea College. There she works for the college’s file department while pursuing a B.A. in English and Communications. As a longtime writer, Kena treasures high quality literature, and also seeks inspiration from various films and theatre productions. She hopes to pursue a career in publishing and eventually author a book of her own. When not working, you can find her reading, writing, or listening to music.