Playlist #5: Love Films (The Remix)

With the V word on every ad man’s lips, Marc Hall takes a skewed look at love and sex in the movies…

The shops are full of tacky plastic hearts, you’re being encouraged to spend a fiver on a piece of cardboard, and if you don’t surprise your ‘love’ with a bunch of flowers then you’re led to believe your idea of romance is on a par with Rosemary’s Baby.  Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. The one day a year we have chosen to share our love because showing this over the other 364 days is out of the question.

In that spirit we’re looking at the movie world’s approach to love. Let’s start with one of the most successful movies of all time, Titanic: a fictional love story set to the backdrop of a notorious disaster. Anything goes in Hollywood-land, especially when a heart is at stake. I can hardly wait for 9-11 the movie to romp home at the 2042 Oscars. Voiceover man: “She worked on the 56th floor; he was a dish washer at Windows of the World and on one fateful day…”

Not content with using an iconic disaster to line his pockets, James Cameron then went on to create Avatar. A movie in which, a human falls in love with a Na’vi. To be honest, who knows what the DNA structure of a Na’vi would be, would it be possible for them to procreate and make beautiful ‘Liger’ type children, or are we going to look forward to the Avatar sequel being more like a blue version of Tod Browning’s Freaks?

It could be said that James Cameron had good intentions with his love stories, but what about George Lucas? Was the initial connection between Luke and Leia created by a different type of force, or was it an innocent part of the Leia and Han story arc. Back to the Future used a similar story to great amusement, with Marty McFly’s time traveling exploits resulting in his own mother wanting to have a go on his flux capacitor.

Innocence also features highly in another 80s classic, Big, in which a 30 year old woman unknowingly falls for a 13 year old boy. Generational gaps also come into play when Mrs Robinson turns seductress in The Graduate, and a young Harold falls for septuagenarian Maude in Harold and Maude. Although, none of these match the age difference between Bella (17) and Edward (108) in the Twilight Saga, but let’s not go there.

Moving on from romance, and into a more sordid world where human contact might not necessarily be a result of cerebral attraction. The horror genre has a strong grounding in sexuality, with Dracula setting hearts a-fluttering from the 1800s. More recently we’ve seen an influx of body horror and torture porn, with films like Bad Biology and Teeth making men wince. Human Centipede 2 also ups the sexual ante, with the new ‘creature’ created from the fantasies of the perpetrator, rather than the medical experimentation of its predecessor.Revenge plays heavy in films where liberties are taken and gruesome acts set the tone for the remainder of the film.

Peaking in the 70s with films like Deliverance, The Last House on the Left and Straw Dogs, but also featuring heavily in the likes of Irreversible and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (and no, I shall not be using Enya on my playlist despite the power of that scene), torture and revenge make for pretty ugly bedfellows.  Japanese Cinema also seems to revel in these films, with Audition and Grotesque both succeeding in exploiting the genre, an area where A Serbian Film failed mightily.

We shall close on Wall-E. Nothing too strange here, but what we have is two ‘soulless’ robots falling in love, in a way in which is hard to find in human love stories. In the same vain, I’d advise you to track down Spike Jonze 2010 short film I’m Here.  Beautiful.

Marc Hall

Posted on 13/02/2012 by thedoublenegative