by Lara Ferrari
The point is: enjoy eros and the capacity of arousing it in the other, or transcend to a higher level of pleasure, through it? The seventh art doesn’t have scruples, and from the dawn of times prefer to mock the stakes imposed by literary canons, taking advantage of the apparent clarity of prewritten plots to say something else, or eros, yes, but by moving the bar higher on the “daring” scale. There is a filmmaker, Brian De Palma, talking about we still wonder whether he is more interested in horror, thriller or sex, who mixes with skill the first with the third, dividing the screen into a huge chessboard where languid half-naked bodies and 38-caliber guns coexist. The vision that emerges is so osmotic the viewer is no longer able to understand if the detonating effect of his excitement comes from the gun, the woman or the illusion of erotic forum that the two together are capable of causing. The Baltimorefilmmaker knows how to produce this magic in two extraordinary films: Dressed to Kill
(1980) and Body Double(1984). In Dressed To Kill, deliberately a double sense, where to kill is to mean ‘to seduce’, the camera in the fabulous opening scene follows Angie Dickinson, ever so allusive and disturbing, and it becomes the second skin of the protagonists, among whom are a woman and a young man trying to solve a mysterious and vicious murder. But the film’s ambiguity lies in the ability of reading it in a double way: erotic thriller or erotic movie with a thousand horror veins. Sex, desired, refused and consumed is there, but it is the director’s carnal obsession translated into his actors that makes it tangible.
Branded as pornographic at the time, and yet shining example of the incantatory power of cinema: Body Double, in which the vision, for the viewer, becomes a smokescreen. Soft-core actor dreams of making love to the beautiful neighbor but both get into trouble. Eroticism is not performed in the body of Melanie Griffith or in the veiled Deborah Shelton, but it exudes in every frame, even in the more splatter, caressed, as in Dressed To Kill, by the music by Pino Donaggio.
Crash (1996) by David Cronenberg represents the aberration that can reach sexual lust. The Canadian uses the car, seen as an appendix of the human body, to unleash in the young James Spader the most perverse sexual urges. And as disturbing as it may seem, the scene of him caressing the swollen leg and banded with steel buckles of his lover gives off an unforgettable erotic charge.
Gem of the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize, there is Carrington(1995) by Christopher Hampton, the sexual evolution of a painter, who is married to an old and homosexual intellectual. It is the intense, albeit platonic romantic relationship between the two to trigger her the erotic ‘beast’ long withheld in her. The result? She will have more lovers than the Marquise de Merteuil.
And after this British exception to the group of hallucinated filmmakers, we recover a great classic for the final. Eve Marie Saint and Cary Grant dialogue while they are in a bunk for Chicago, in the movie North by Northwest by Alfred Hitchcock. Every word, movement of the lips of the two corresponds to a slow, satisfying sexual act. Culminating, who could imagine it, with the train entering the tunnel.
Cover: The poster of Dressed to kill