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When submitted to the MPAA, the film was unofficially given an NC-17 rating. In order to obtain an R rating, the filmmakers had to remove a shot of urination in someone's mouth. Rather than re-cut the scene, the filmmakers removed the entire (two-minute) sequence, which also includes male frontal nudity. See more »
I expected mere titillation for the sake of exploitation ...which is partly why Krafft-Ebing challenges his readers to understand... he coined the term "masochism" and explains how exploitation, or the feeling of being exploited satisfies one's desires, however these selfish desires and their abstractions---not just coitus for procreation---but the odd fetishes; weird and irrational things that humans combine with touch, taste and their associations with pleasure, is what Krafft-Ebing explored. But in Krafft-Ebing's time the patriarchal model of thinking dominated every-body's behaviors, and the idea of Men and Women with different needs was completely new territory. Krafft-Ebing sought to understand these things, like his first pupil, Sigmund Freud and so should you.
About the movie, a few things stand out for me---besides Wood---the marionette and old-tyme, rotating diorama scene performed by Rob Nixon. If one only listens to the narrator, one will be repulsed, but Nixon's puppetry made it a lovely scene ...until you focus on the narrator again. Such delightful revulsion. Such a brilliant contrast. Speaking of weird contrasts, the scene shot on the train was technically abominable... whites blown-out and actors look green. What happened? Most other scenes are really well done, lighting, set and decent editing. I really enjoyed how the camera work made me feel like a voyeur on these people's lives.
Basically, the writer/director, Bret Wood takes an artful Victorian approach to exposing hidden recesses within the minds Kraft-Ebbing considered deviant. Most every quirk gets screen time, but blood-lust was the primary fluid of compulsion. I avoided focusing on this by counting how many behaviors were abnormal in the Victorian Age, and by comparison acceptable in modern times. It must have been a demanding task for Wood to sort through all the kinks from the book.
His book, a precursor to Kinsey's reports and the DSM, Krafft-Ebing explored various psychologies and how they deal with sexuality and desires. And I appreciate how Wood tied stories together with themes. Most interesting for the "people-watcher" or scientist. Voyeuristic; in a very mythical way, and its interesting to see people's motivations to satisfy desires. Honest portrayals of people's perversions, bawdy lusts and vile corporal behaviors---all the more condemnable because of the time period. Yet, I found a few actors unconvincing in their performances. Blah. But on the whole, scenes carried well from subject to subject, and in the end, there is some clear explanations about people's sexuality. This was good drama with an academic arch of learning. The ending was unexpected and left me with more questions than answers.
A brilliant feminist author, Camille Paglia once said in "The Joy of Presbyterian Sex--Sex, Art, and American Cutlure, Essays", published Vintage Books, 1992, p.32 she wrote "Life without guilt or shame would be found only in sociopaths and the lobotomized."
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