In order of appearance: Julie Benz, David Carradine (RIP), Jason Mewes, Danny Dyer, Shawnee Smith, Greg Grunberg, Brad Dourif, Warwick Davis, Pete Postlethwaite, Udo Kier, Mackenzie Crook, John Landis, Tom Savini, Gunnar Hansen, Doug Bradley…
With a cast like you’d have to be daft not to be curious about Tattoos: A Scarred History, an independent UK documentary that dares to delve into the ‘dark and dangerous world of tattoos’? Sousila Pillay (no I don’t know who she is either) takes us on a personal journey to find out what’s the attraction about getting a tattoo (because her boyfriend Steve has three).
But instead of asking Steve why he wanted to get inked, our would-be Louis Theroux takes her camera to an assortment of film conventions around the UK to ask a slew of TV and film stars that very same question.
Wrapped around this illuminating celebrity survey, Pillay ropes in therapists, MPs and a bishop to give their reasons why tattoos are not for them, while emotional personal testaments try to justify the ‘tattoos are good’ cause.
Tattoos: A Scarred History is a brave, but amateur, attempt at exploring a rich and very complex cultural phenomenon. Sure Pillay asks the right questions, but she comes across as a little over dramatic at times, as though her life depended on getting a straight answer.
While basic in its treatment (we never meet Steve or his three tattoos), and in need of some judicious editing (there’s really no reason for the body modification scenes), there’s a genuine spirit here that wins through. And I, for one, was almost reduced to tears to see what must have been David Carradine‘s final public appearance before his untimely death in 2009.
Please note this documentary contains scenes of a very graphic nature.
Released 19 April