A poetic exploration of the body and everyday actions in relation to art
This abstract film is not really silent; it is, rather, a film without dialogue. It is actually a very sonorous film whose soundtrack of operatic music is crucial to its meaning. In the deceptively simple Casta Diva, De Kuyper produced a meditation upon the relationship of art to everyday life that repays multiple viewings. Beauty is found in the ordinary, produced and reproduced specifically through the performance of everyday actions (making breakfast, shaving, etc.) by ordinary men. Beauty hence appears in this film as aestheticized experience.
There is a definite though inexplicit eroticism -- not to mention theatricality -- in the way the bodies of De Kuyper's male subjects are rendered by his camera as (photo)graphic patterns of light and dark. As an aesthetic exploration, the film thus precedes and parallels the filmmaker's later scholarly investigation published in book form as, De Verbeelding van het Mannelijk Lichaam. Formally and thematically, the film relates closely to De Kuyper's much more lighthearted Naughty Boys. It is also formally reminiscent of Pasolini's Gospel According to Saint Matthew, and of some of the work of Paul Morissey (notably Flesh). It differs, however, from such films in its very slight dependence on irony. Casta Diva elicits smiles, but it remains after all a self-consciously serious film.
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