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Beate Charlotte Lunde
Follows the tale of a young woman's sexual awakening and subsequent journey around the world in pursuit of her ideal lover. Encounters include an Arabian sheik and a Spanish bullfighter. Her friend and butler accompany her and help to arrange her couplings. Moderate nudity and soft-porn. Written by
Tony Bridges <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One thing to remember about "Bolero" is that the reason lots of people went to see it on its initial release was that the MPAA wanted to rate it "X". Jon and Bo decided to release it without a rating in order to avoid having to make cuts to their masterwork. As a result, there was a lot of fanfare around the release of "Bolero." A whole lot of people (okay, let's be completely honest--"a whole lot of men") flocked to the theaters because of this controversy, figuring, "Hey, if the MPAA wanted it to be 'X,' it must be pretty steamy stuff. So here's our golden opportunity to see what those darn censors tried to protect us from."
Having worked in a theater that exhibited "Bolero" on its first run in 1984, I can attest to the fact that, during most showings, at least a third of the audience walked out before the half-way mark. A lot of people demanded their money back on this one. To be frank, a fair number of them were disappointed because they expected explicit pornography and instead only got soft-core.
Bo is in search of ecstasy--"E-X-T-A-S-Y," as her character says early in the story. Later in the movie, during a fantasy sequence, Bo sees a neon sign that reads, "Extasy." She says, "See? I was right - 'X'," then makes an "X" in front of her face with her two index fingers. (The scene is actually much funnier in context (unintentionally funny, that is), but I don't want to spoil the movie's only entertaining moment.)
Well, the MPAA was right - it should have been rated X. While the camera never gets as up-close and personal as one usually expects in pornography, it still carefully focuses your attention where it wants you to look--and I don't mean "at Bo's eyes". The camera even resorts to objectification a few times, showing people only from the neck to the hips--reducing people to body parts because the filmmakers want you to focus only on the sex and to forget about the characters and the plot, which is a basic staple of most mainstream pornography.
"Bolero" seemed to want to be a fable with the moral, "Sex with someone you love is infinitely better than casual sex." However, it tried to deliver this moral through soft-core porn that is mostly centered around casual sex, which strikes me as a conflict of interests.
"Bolero" wants to be pornography, but it also wants to be a morality play. It ultimately fails to be a good example of either one. "Deep Throat" and "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" had better plots, better scripts and better acting, and, to all appearances, their creators communicated their intentions more successfully.
Like Tanya Roberts' "Sheena," if "Bolero" had been a little worse than it is, it could have become a camp classic. Sadly, the majority of "Bolero" is just plain not interesting. When people really love or really hate a movie, you at least know that the movie has enough substance to evoke such strong responses. The main response that "Bolero" evoked from people was yawns, which is one of the worst things a filmmaker can achieve.
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