Did You Say Bizarre?
Sex, The Last Thirty Years
JULIET FLOWER MacCANNELL
Rorty and the Orchids
Encore is the proper name of the gap in the Other from which the demand for love stems. - Lacan
Two times, two places, four films. Each paired set spans the same three decades, the 60s to the 90s. Each paired set repeats a scene marking the absence of the sexual relation. But the French frame of the first set and that of the second - the American South - show how sharply divergent are the recent histories of managing this absence (which is equally the history of attempts to resolve the jouissance of the body of the Other) in the civilizations on either side of the Atlantic. Depicting four distinctive strategies on the part of four different young women, the films expand the psychoanalytic repertoire of human strategies for dealing with the excess of jouissance which is the beyond of the sexual relation. We are reminded by these films that violence is one means of making up for the absence of sexual relation; and they make us realize how we are forgetting other ways.
First set of films: Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris, 1963 and Claude Sautet's Nelly et M. Arnaud, 1995. First pair of women: leading ladies Brigitte Bardot as Camille Javal and Emmanuelle Beart as Nelly. Second films: J. Lee Thompson's Cape Fear, 1962, and Martin Scorsese's remake, 1991. Second pair of minor female characters: Barrie Chase as Diane Taylor and Illeana Douglas as Lori Davis - the same yet different figure in each. The second pairing is no surprise, but the first set takes some argumentation to connect up.
GODARD'S CONTEMPT (Le Mépris)
Godard's wide-screen full color film starring Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance and Fritz Lang is largely about exploiting ironic layers of the medium's inherent reflexivity. A respected screenwriter, Paul Javal (Piccoli) is asked to script the Hollywood extravaganza movie version of Homer's Odyssey for which an L.A. money man producer, Jeremy Prokosh (Jack Palance - J.P. in art and life), has already secured the talents of director Fritz Lang (who plays himself as himself; Jean-Luc Godard plays his assistant director). Javal's wife, Camille Javal (played by Brigitte Bardot, whose real-life name is also Camille Javal), is his one-time typist who balks at going on the Mediterranean jaunt to film the epic. She and her husband start to argue about the trip, the quarrel escalates, and the two engage in probably the longest single male/female spat ever seen on screen.
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