Bilitis (1977)


In collecting my old IMDB comments for moving to this site, I find a few hundred missing — possibly a thousand. There was an era in IMDB history — before Facebook and Twitter — where IMDB was a social media hub. My comments were an attractor for the worst sort, and they ended up having agency; only one complaint for any reason would see a comment removed without notice.

That’s one reason to leave IMDB, plus the fact that their indexing is poor. Also, contributors are supporting a business model for free that I do not like. So I am faced with recommenting on a film that I remember well from 30 plus years ago. I will do my best to reconstruct what I would have said then.

I am sure the rating would be a three, meaning this is worth seeing, because of what it forces you to confront. If you have not seen it, the base layer seems to be simply an excuse for underage porn. On that you have a fairly thin story of adolescent sexual awakening, and on that (thanks to Breillat’s involvement) some perspective on female confusion, the forces raised by the viewer, and a temporarily safe retreat by our heroine. Depending on who you are, you’ll see one of these layers as primary.

Let me say that for me, the filmmaker’s intent matters almost not at all. That allows me to bask, for example, in Lynch’s complex films, or Jodorowsky’s without trying to get into their thin heads. So it doesn’t matter to me whether Hamilton’s motives were exploitive and unforgivable. What matters is the effect of the film, whether deliberate or not.

I think if I watched it today, it would have little effect on me as the introspective vocabulary of film has moved on and so have I. But 30 years ago I think this successfully suckered us into entering the film as one of the participants not in control of our desires. It seduced us literally and placed us in the same society of the characters who had little control over their worlds.

The gauzey lens helps with that, presuming that what we perceive has to be filled in by us to make it even look normal. This is a continuation of a cinematic trend that includes ‘Elvira Madigan’ which I think I will post about now.

Posted in 2022

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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