The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in
E. A. Poe
Several years ago I read in a newspaper that a hospital orderly had raped a corpse. I was at the time looking for a story about characters dragged by their most primitive instincts, and I thought that could be a good starting point. What was in the mind of that orderly when he realized that everybody (his family, friends, acquaintances...) would know that he was a necrophile? That’s how the plot of The corpse of Anna Fritz was born. A group of characters perform a morally vile action –raping a corpse– and they find themselves in a situation where possibly the entire world, society, are going to know what they have done. They can only save themselves if she dies, again.
Fear allows, and sometimes drives us, to kill. But killing, at first, isn’t that easy for a normal person. In order to do it, he needs to dehumanize or hate whomever he’s going to kill. This perverse mechanism of our nature is what the movie is based on.
My aim was to depict that fine border that sets apart what makes us human from what makes us monsters. The most normal person can easily become a monster. If not, nothing could explain human behavior during war and genocide. There are several forms of monstrosity and I wanted to explore the most primitive and basic one. The one that’s derived from a wickedness that’s almost unevolved. A wickedness, at the beginning, without sadism. A wickedness exerted by characters that in normal circumstances would never want to do evil. A wickedness that even destroys psychologically the ones that experiences it. A wickedness born out of necessity, but that would have never emerged in characters of higher morality.
To search for this simple and basic wickedness, I chose simple and basic characters. Low-middle class, low education. Young people that work to spend what they earn in alcohol, drugs and sex. The most normal people I had on hand.
The corpse of Anna Fritz has only four actors and a single location. The action is told with unity of action and place. A morgue, a single night (about three hours). Without emotional ellipses, with the characters being present all the time. A time and a place that are part of the story, and that contain it. A time and a place that, too, grind the characters as much as their doubts and decisions. A place that gives physicality to the action, and a time that reminds us that the end is imminent. The camera never narrates, it is always psychological, looking to convey in the most direct manner the emotions and feelings, and to bridge the gap between viewers and characters. Always with the aim of making the viewer feel the anxiety that the characters are experiencing.
Hèctor H. Vicens