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Lindsay Hallam

Related: Sadean cinema - film theory


Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia

Luis Buñuel was the first to introduce Sade into the cinematic realm

It was Surrealist Luis Buñuel who first introduced Sade into the cinematic realm. In the 1930 film L'Âge d'or, Buñuel chose to end his tale of erotic passion with a scene taken from Sade's novel The 120 Days of Sodom. --Lindsay Hallam, Jan 2004, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/whips_and_bodies.html

Kiss Me, Monster!: The Female Vampire as Sadean Woman

In contrast to the male vampire’s popularity in Hollywood horror, the female vampire is more widely prevalent in European cinema, in films that flirt with the boundaries of both art and ‘trash’. As well as transgressing barriers separating high and low culture, the character of the female vampire also represents a transgression of other cultural taboos regarding sexuality, death and violence. In order to examine the transgressive nature of the female vampire I will utilise the philosophy of the Marquis de Sade. Sade, within fiction, explored the possibilities and limitations of the body through sexual practices that went beyond the prevailing norm of genital-centred heterosexual intercourse, incorporating seemingly ‘non-sexual’ body parts, acts, and objects, as well as pain and violence. The female vampire is a distinctly Sadean creature, whose sexuality is inseparable from her instinct for violence and murder. She is polymorphously perverse, gaining sexual pleasure from all over the body (demonstrated by the act of drinking blood from the neck). They are also bisexual creatures that carry traits from both genders, with the ability to penetrate both men and women with their fangs. Through this illustration of female vampire as Sadean woman I will argue that the female vampire represents a rejection of society’s oppressions on sexual expression, revealing the power and attraction of transgression. However, as Sade also illustrated, unbridled sexual expression is inextricably linked with violent instinct. Despite her apparent youth, stunning beauty and sexual availability, the female vampire has transgressed the boundary between life and death, and has therefore become something other than human – a monster. She is looking for victims, not husbands. In order to possess her you must in turn give up your life. In order to kiss her you have to let her kiss you back! --http://www.miriad.mmu.ac.uk/visualculture/inc/nightmares/abstract.php?id=10 [Jun 2006]

Jesus Franco

Just as Pasolini took a Sade novel and transposed it onto the 20th century, several films made by exploitation filmmaker Jess Franco also use Sade's novels as inspiration. Franco filmed Justine in 1968, Eugenie, The Story of Her Journey Into Perversion (an adaptation of Philosophy in the Bedroom) in 1969, Eugenie de Sade (based on Sade's short story Eugenie de Franval) in 1970, and Juliette in 1975. Unlike Pasolini's film, which used Sade to illustrate human cruelty and depravity in unflinching and highly emetic terms, Franco's brand of “Euro-trash” cinema utilises Sade to create a titillating effect. Franco updates Sade's stories to the time in which they were made, transposing Sade to the generation of “free love”. As these films are low-budget exploitation films, they revel in the representations of sex – certainly with more edge than Hollywood fare, but still slightly diluted when compared to the original text (or Salò). However, other Franco films do show a fascination with depictions of torture, sadomasochism and the use of very explicit sex, such as Female Vampire (1973), Ilsa, The Wicked Warden (1977) and Bloody Moon (1980). The sheer volume of Franco's output (the total has been approximated at 145 films since 1959) shows a compulsion for filmmaking that rivals Sade's own compulsive need to write while locked up in prison. --Lindsay Hallam, Jan 2004, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/04/30/whips_and_bodies.html

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