Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Almodovar's The Law of Desire and Moulin Rouge

In contrast to the tranquillity of my mini break in Scotland I viewed the Law of Desire shortly before departure, an Almodovar film which engaged me more than anticipated. Having recently described how my prejudice against all things German had been forged by my childhood experience of rocket bombs, until individual encounters, spread over several decades, led me to understand the universality of human behaviour, it has taken just as many decades to discard the simplistic Freudian view of homosexuality, in part because of difficulties in understanding the development of my own sexual orientation, and need for celibacy. These are subjects for another occasion.

That the Law of Desire is a film about a selfish, creative, promiscuous, homosexual, Eusebio Poncela who juggles relationships, and does not understand until it is too late, the influence his behaviour has on a young man, played by a young Antonio Banderas, is an reflection of Almodovar's preoccupations. The specific sexual orientation is irrelevant because this is a film about the consequences of giving free reign to our instinctive passion to possess other human beings, and the destructive nature of jealousy when the object of that desire does not respond in the way we want of them. In the film the obsession leads to the murder of a rival and to suicide. Being Almodovar there are also stock diversions where the police are portrayed as corrupt incompetent fascists, and with the Catholic Church being predominated by paedophile priests. We also learn that the sister, Carmen Maura, was in fact a brother with the corrupting adults, a Father and a father. He has a sex change operation after their father dumps him for a new lover.

Usually I find Almodovar's wilder excesses, unnecessary to the point of irritating. and his work became for me that of an adolescent given too much fame and fortune for their own good, although most artists cannot resist the temptation to reproduce their successful work in continuous variation. On this occasion I was caught up and held by the performances of the main characters, in much the same way as I had on experiencing Carmen Jones again a few weeks before. During my stay in Scotland on a cold, windy and damp morning I viewed the DVD of Moulin Rouge. A film which I did not enjoy at first viewing in theatre because of the running commentary by two educated moronic youths attempting to impress their school girl friends, and because I had not read advance material about the nature of this interpretation of the Moulin Rouge as a can-can bordello turned into musical theatre where the first production is created by existentialist bohemians who believe in idealistic love and that the star courtesan can become a reborn virgin who meets a heroic end as in the best of operas. I then enjoyed a second viewing in theatre and have played the DVD and an additional material several times since purchase. I suspect just as I rate Tony Blair as a great Prime Minister, I am alone in having some sympathy for the Duke in Moulin Rouge, who has the means to buy the exclusive use of the star turn only to find that she has given her heart to a penniless poet and he like Banderas in the Law of Desire is driven to murder in order to eliminate his rival. I cannot condone the violence but I understand his feelings. Being a Hollywood movie for teenagers, he loses her body and her soul, and poet is destined to exploit his experience into a best seller. It is a good ending because in real life the poet would have sent out his conquest whoring to pay for their life style while he squandered his talent drinking with his companions and trying out the latest drugs. The Duke would have made the whore into a Duchess.

Creatives like priests should be celibate and if they must gratify sexual appetites they should restrict themselves to the occasional whore, or better still, and less expensive, to cream cakes. Today, none of my writing came easy and the rain lashing prevented the rabbits from coming above ground until hunger forced some to venture for a nibble. Fortunately the weather improved for an hour to enable me to purchase a cream apple turnover for elevenses, and a stack of Scottish pancakes, three of which I have just had for tea. They never taste the same as when I would buy what I could afford for two old pence a time, for breakfast, along with a mug of tea, on an early morning ferry between Dunoon and Gourock in the early sixties and which also seemed to take the long way round calling at Helensburgh and Killgregan, and having camped by the water in the grounds of the Youth Hostel at Strone point. In my case the wages of desire means that I stay fat

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