By 1974, French film was at one of its periodic crises. What seemed grand ideas only a few years before had proved to lack power, and the general trend was back to sense. Bertolucci a sort of pretend Frenchie had reset the stage for exploring couples via sex in what to me seemed quite masterful: "Last Tango." This had followed 68's "Barbarella" which was French in its soul (and redone in more of a retrospective French mode as the massively under-appreciated "CQ."
1972's "Deep Throat" set a sort of outer bound on "mainstream" porn, but at least demonstrated that buckets of money were to be had.
So a sort of Frenchified erotic notion was invented. Its essentially sexual, following the Hugh Hefner model of sexually active women not as whores, but as simply appealing women. No story. No real characters, or anything else except erotic pictures. Much was made at the time of the difference between "erotic" and "pornographic." In retrospect, as this documentary shows, their isn't much difference when measured against exploitation and male fantasy measures. The soft photography and lack of explicit penetration was supposed to matter more then than it seems to today.
And the original film (there have been almost three dozen, which should be damning in itself) features an outrageous shot of preteen pudendal smoking by a poor Thai child.
I thought this documentary did a good job of presenting the background of the film, perhaps leaving out the context I have noted. And it spends enough time with the then unknown woman who starred, and had her life ruined. There is some back and forth between the filmmakers who still defend it as noble film-making and observers who present otherwise.
But it did change things cinematic, at least for a while, and apart from itself, probably for the better in the long run. Put another nail in French cinema, alas.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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