DVD Documentary Review: Modify | Reel Movie Nation

  • Concept
  • Quality of Filming
  • Graphic Images
  • Variety of Topics
  • Shock

In the 2005 documentary directed by both Jason Gary and Greg Jacobson, audiences get an up-close and personal look at body modifications in Modify. Ranging from tattoos, piercings, scarification, suspension, implants, body building and drag, more people are using their bodies as works of art than ever before. Not only does the film show the sometimes gory modifications, but also delves into how and why people do it. The docu asks some more controversial questions throughout, concerning the modified persons acceptance in society and their personal lives.

In addition to some sound problems towards the beginning of the film, Modify seemed a bit thrown together and unprofessional. There was a lack of chronology and organization throughout the film. It didn’t seem to really start or end anywhere substantial. The purpose of the documentary seemed to be allowing the audience to view a world which is often misunderstood and taboo. While I appreciated the concept and nature of the film, I felt that it should’ve been organized in a better way. It was often hard to keep track of the numerous interviews and images, and would’ve perhaps flowed better had there been some sort of conclusion at the end. In order to transition from topic to topic, the film either inserted a black screen with a word or question, or simply just skipped to a new topic. Perhaps a narrator or interview with the director to get a sense of the interviewees would’ve helped tell the story of modification in a way that seems a little less random.

This film is certainly not for the weak stomach. With closeup images of piercings, splittings, scarings, burnings, and suspensions, Modify can sometimes be a bloody and gut-wrenching film. Some of the interviewees show their bodies completely nude in order to show all their proud work. While some modifications are for vanity, others for deep personal meanings, and some even for sexual enhancement, there is certainly no modesty in showing off.

Despite some production issues, Modify is an extremely interesting documentary that has eye opening images as well as concepts and ideals.  The general consensus of many of the interviewees was that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many people live their whole lives trapped inside themselves, never fully living out their dreams and desires. But the interviewees in the docu show how you can change your life to live for yourself, whether body modification is for you or not.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film, was the range of what many consider “modifications”. Going into the film I mostly thought it would be about tattoos and piercings. Little did I know, the bar is perpetually changing for safe procedures and therefore body-mods are constantly expanding. Some of the people interviewed in the film actually invented new procedures for implants, scarrings, and other body modifications which have now become the industry norm. While many of the mods may seem relatively new in practice, in many parts of the world the practices are ancient.

Throughout the film many types of body modifications, on many different types of people, in many different parts of the world, all help to encompass the body-mod world. Some tribes in Africa use scarification, which involves scratching, etching, burning, or cutting designs into the skin, as a permanent modification which shows their cultural heritage.

Another type of body modification that is ironically less taboo than some of the more counter-culture mods is plastic surgery. Modify shows the extreme lengths people will go to in order to achieve their ideal of beauty. From breast implants to liposuction, the technology of the 21st century makes virtually any physical desire possible. While some people resort to surgery, others want to alter their bodies to their own degree through body building. I didn’t really consider body-building in the body modification world until I saw this film, but I quickly realized it’s all in the same category. There was even a segment that showed people getting “permanent makeup”, a relatively new procedure where the face is tattooed in order to define eyes, brows, and cheekbones. As an avid makeup fan I can see how the process is appealing, only requiring a few touchups for fading as opposed to using tons of products everyday, which often don’t even last throughout the day.

Whether you want to add, take away, enhance, or change your body in any way, whether permanently or temporarily, or if you’re just curious about the culture Modify is an excellent documentary. For mature audiences only, this docu should be watched with friends with remote in hand, as you’re sure to want to pause and discuss many elements of the film.