Still. if this particular viewer is convinced that Kaufman‘s beady camera eye has a tendency to turn all that sensuality into mere anatomical display. the film‘s leading actress. Maria De Medeiros. whose admirable portrayal of the seemingly humourless Ana'is rescues Henry and June from a heavy dose ofself-indulgence. reacts strongly to any suggestion that she’s merely a prize exhibit for the grimy raincoat brigade.
‘The X certification seemed strange to me because there is absolutely nothing pornographic in the film.‘ she declaims. mid-way through a brief London promotional pit-stop. ‘On the contrary, the ideals of personal freedom and the audacity of the characters‘ erotic adventures are what shock, not the images themselves.‘ Commenting on the difference between pornography and art. De Medeiros puts it down to that earth-shattering concept, Good Taste: ‘In pornography there is no story line and the image is absolute. The close-ups. the bare lights, you know. Eroticism, on the other hand however, exists in the unknown. in the metaphor, the suggestion. It is so linked to mental power. Henry andJune is very much in the same line as Laclos‘s Dangerous Liaisons. Both Nin and Miller loved French erotic literature, and you can feel this inﬂuence.’
De Medeiros, who scoured every available
written and visual record of Nin‘s torrid life which ended in 1977. identifies closely with her character. and defends her controversial writings. ‘Ana'is and Henry did write pornography. but for survival. They were writing for this collector — nobody knows exactly who he is. but he would always demand no poetry. no literary images. just straight to the point. Ana'is writes to him. asking why he forced them to hurt something they love so much. because by forcing them to write pornography she felt he was destroying their eroticism. The difference between the two was clear in her mind.‘
Although Kaufman‘s interpretation of Nin‘s undoubtedly ferocious sexual appetite often scarifices the diaries‘ intricacies of character to the demands of the visual image. De Medeiros recognises the author as ‘an extremely complex woman with many contradictions. There was an immense fragility in her and an incredible strength. She‘s close to both innocence and perversity. Such ambivalence makes her fascinating to play.‘
Henry A nd June opens on Friday 30 November at Cannon Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, UCI Craig Park, Edinburgh and UCl Clyde Regional Centre, Clydebank.
Henry And June (journals of A nai's Nin) is just published in Penguin paperback. priced£4. 99.
Maria De Madeiros (left) as Ana'is Min and Uma Thurman as June Mansfield in Henry and June.
‘I had the feeling in the film of these two writers playing with a little doll, fascinated by the life in it, and all of a sudden it’s dead, it’s destroyed.’ Maria De
The List 23 November— 6 December 199011