Shock Head Soul interleaves documentary interviews, fictional reconstruction and CGI animation to portray the story of Daniel Paul Schreber, a successful lawyer who, in 1893, started to receive messages from God via a “Writing Down Machine” that spanned the cosmos. He spent the next 9 years confined to an asylum: tortured by delusions of cosmic control, suffering from the belief that he was shifting gender and that his body was subjected to cruel ’miracles’; Schreber believed that only his submission to God’s plan to change him into a woman would save the world. During his confinement he wrote Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, which has earned him lasting fame as an outsider artist, allowing him to argue that that his belief system was a matter of religious freedom and that he was sane enough to return to society. Running as a recurrent motif through the film is an imaginary Writing Down Machine inspired by both the delusory writing down systems envisioned by Schreber and also the Hansen Writing Ball. This early visionary design for a typewriter is famous because Nietzsche used such a machine to compose reflections on the relationship between writing and technology. The film’s mix of forms explores the borderline between religious vision and deluded fanaticism, and the intimate link between family secrets, psychiatric diagnosis and our societal understanding of mental illness. –Venice Film Festival
a mixed media essay of sorts, that sadly just didn't work. would have been much more interesting to have focused on the father/son relationship (and far more freudian, i suppose) than cast as wide an arc as it did. also - i didn't understand why they chose to make the courtroom CGI. The first wide angle shot of the courtroom was certainly spectacular, but after that it just seemed pointless and a little absurd.