THE LOVER FEATURE
the notion that anyone is going to mount a quick demonstration of pro-celebrity hide the salami is simply beyond credulity.
You’d risk being laughed at ifyou put the current slew of scurrilous stories to the ever-urbane Monsieur Annaud, who with the likes of The Name Of The Rose and The Bear has specialised in ambitious and distinctly risk-taking movie material, but I did wonder whether he felt the transition from page to screen made all-too-literal the subtle interplay of passions remembered that makes the novel such compelling reading?
‘Ah, yes. this is the problem of cinema. having to display what’s in the mind.’ he reﬂects in tangily-accented English. ‘Cinema shows the outside, literature talks of the inside. Marguerite Duras’s words are not shocking. They’re soft. they talk about feelings. But I have to show a certain level of realism on screen. Two bodies together. It’s difficult in film to do otherwise. Love, passion. desire are feelings. but we
about sex is obviously Nagisa Oshima’s quasi-hardcore In The Realm Of The Senses. a film that Annaud claims he had in his mind right the way through shooting The Lover. ‘I didn’t think about censorship when I was filming, but I did have the Oshima in mind so that I shot just what I wanted to see. I admire his film but, particularly in the scene where the woman has the egg inserted into her, it made me uncomfortable. I can’t identify with a film when I’m too embarrassed, so I realised that with my own movie I didn’t want to see too much. I wanted to talk to the imagination instead of showing too much.’
The result includes a good deal of full body contact between the two game principals, and a few rather arresting sequences of extreme close-up photography — ‘To
describe the melting of the flesh,’ says Annaud, ‘I wanted to have the visuals approximate the abstract images we have in our minds when we’re making love’ — but the filmmaker is adamant that, above all, he wanted to be true to the thematic imperatives of the story rather than merely titillate the viewer. ‘Sure. you need that sexual charge. but I didn’t want to overdo it. People should feel the dimension ofpleasure and desire and understand the reality of these emotions so that it makes the love story powerful. But that’s enough. It’s not designed to send the audience out ofthe cinema with red ears and their hands in their pockets.’
The Lover opens in Scotland on Friday I 9
filmmakers are glued to the exterior.’ Although Jeanne Moreau’s throaty voiceover gives a flavour of the literary original. there is a feeling throughout The Lover that. despite the ravishing production values and quality performances, the copious footage of coupling and hectares of exposed flesh has a way of reducing it to a sort of Emmanuellc for Sunday supplement readers. Annaud himselfis aware ofthe inherent problems in taking a serious filmic approach to purely sexual subject matter. ‘People are made uneasy by any piece ofart
that explores this area.’ says the
tousle-haired Parisian. ‘IfI can put it in these words. I think they are really struggling against the beast. They don’t like to be reminded that there’s a part of us driven by rules that aren’t what we want. It’s why most peOple turn off the light when they
One of the definitive screen statements
pre-Airplane. Who could forget the ‘trailer’ for Catholic School Girls In Trouble. billed as ‘more offensive than Mandingo’. The juvenile smut end of the market (see also under ‘F’ .)
LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1973) The standard by which all others must be compared. Bertolucci’s arty (read ‘dull pornographic’) psychodrama about the love affair between two strangers (Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider) viewing a vacant apartment. On its British release. it lost ten seconds of that now infamous scene. As they say, no butts, it’s got to be butter. _
MARY POPPINS (1964) Just kidding.
NINE AND A HALF WEEKS (1985) Sex in the cinema meets MTV in Adrian Lyne’s slick tale of the
sado-masochistic leanings of Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. A blindfold Basinger chews on chillies and the males in the house start drooling like Pavlov’s dogs.
THE OUTLAW (1943) Howard Hughes’s adult western ran into early censorship problems due to an ad campaign that concentrated on newcomer Jane Russell’s cleavage. Essentially a Pat Garrett/Billy The
‘ Kid tale with a touch more lust in the
THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1981) Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange have their wild oats on the breakfast table , stirring up a feast of Hollywood rumours in the process. More overtly sexual than the 1946 original, which was still called ‘singularly unwholesome’ at the time.
OOEHELLE (1982) If sex in the cinema is still pretty much taboo, then pity the poor censor when homosexual sex rears its contentious head. Fassbinder brings European detachment to Genet’s tale heaving in the sweaty eroticism of the port of Brest. '
HITA, SUE AND DOD TOO (1986) While the rest of the world has couples making out on tide-lapped beaches or in gigantic penthouse bedrooms,
the British contingent use the back seat of a car parked on the edge of a Bradford housing estate. As much of a turn-on as Nora Batty’s knickers. SHAMPOO Sex in the cinema without Warren Beatty? No chance. Here, he’s a Hollywood hairdresser carrying out a campaign against the Establishment by bedding its wives and daughters. Puts the blue in blue
rinse. TIE ME UP, TIE ME DOWN (1989) Spain’s king of kinky kitsch, Pedro Almodovar scored a big ‘X’ with the American censors over this tale of a kidnapped soft-pom actress and her psychotic abductor. The name promises more than it delivers.
THE UNDEAHAOLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING (1987) Bowler-hatted sexual escapades set against the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. Daniel Day-Lewis touches Lena Olin with more than just his left foot. VIDEODROME (1983) James Woods is the cable TV programmer who becomes obsessed with a pirate S&M station before mutating into that ' Cronenbergian conundrum. the New Flesh. Original British video release had nude scenes with Debbie Harry snipped. including the infamous one where she uses her left breast as an ashtray.
WHORE (1991) Even the hype
couldn’t save Mad Ken Russell’s version of David Hines’s play Bondage. Theresa Russell is a streetwise hooker, amiably exposing - the ups and downs of her life .'
XThe letter that says it all.
YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950) Actually, this is a biopic of jazz 1 trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke. but I just couldn’t resist it.
ZmThe usual sound emanating from a cinema where a film hyped on its sexual content is playing. vJ
The LB 1 9‘J‘g’ng‘-’2 July 1992 11