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13 Tzameti


Last night I sat down and watched a small black & white French film called ‘13 Tzameti‘. I had seen a recommendation for it somewhere, so I put it in my Netflix queue and it finally arrived yesterday. I knew next to nothing about the movie before watching it, besides that it was foreign, but I came away sold on it. To actually discuss the movie, which was quite interesting in my opinion, I have to give away the main plot line (though it’s not really anything the trailer doesn’t already give away). So stop reading this post if you intend to watch the movie (which I’m sure none of you are…)

So the story is there is this young, poor roofer in France who is working on a job for a guy who dies. Before the guy died, the roofer overheard him talking about traveling somewhere to potentially make a lot of money. Well, low and behold the guy’s travel tickets fall into the roofer’s hands, so he blindly decides to follow this lead and travels to where this guy was going. Well, it turns out this guy was going to play a game.

This is not your typical sort of game though. It is a game where 13 contestants play a form of Russian Roulette. In the first round, the 13 stand in a circle, each is given a single bullet to put in their 6-shooter gun. They then spin the shooter, point the guy at the back of the guy’s head in front of them, and all pull the trigger when ordered. Whoever is left standing (i.e. didn’t die), gets to go to the next round, and this continues until there is a winner. Meanwhile, a group of very wealthy men are each sponsoring a contestant, and place very large bets, so it’s basically a big gambling operation, though quite a bit different from any I have ever heard of. There are men betting on the lives of other men.

The movie was entertaining, though at times hard to watch. It is very dark and emotionally intense and left me on the edge of my seat. The poor roofer had no idea that this is what he was getting himself into, and there is no way out of it once he finds out what it’s all about, and he is in no way prepared for this like the other contestants (if one can ever actually be prepared for this sort of thing).

What I found most surprising of all though, after watching the movie, I watched one of the DVD extras, which was an interview with someone who had actually taken part in this sort of “game” before, on a number of occasions. The man is in his 60s and seems out there, but in no way crazy like one would expect of someone who actually voluntarily does this. He said that he has done it in countries besides France, and it’s literally like the movie portrays it. He says he likes to take risks, and his life is something he feels OK with risking (though he admits he wouldn’t risk it if there wasn’t money involved). While I’m sure this type of event is not that widespread (or at least I’d like to hope not), it’s just one of those things that I would never have suspected that people are actually willing and capable of doing. It blows my mind.

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