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January 1997, Week 3


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mike Frank <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 16 Jan 1997 16:49:48 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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despite a strong reluctance to challenge edward o'neill's thoughtful
comments on the thematics of BREAKING THE WAVES {BTW} i've
got to take issue with one point . . .
 i don't know whether BTW is art, or entertainment, or kitsch, or just
high brow porn [and i'm even somewhat unclear on how one makes those
distinctions--but let's save that for some other time] . . . but it
seems to me that the claim that the film exploits its ostensible
"seriousness" simply as a way of providing a guilt free occassion for
the tittilations of nudity and sex is, on the face of it, hard to
credit . . . for while BTW sure offers enough sex and [equal opportunity]
nudity,  these are  presented --both through the quality of the image and
through the structure of the narration-- in such a way as to make
them distinctly UN-erotic for the viewer . . . all the structures
that operateto make porn [of whatever core] enticing are
assiduously deconstructed here, so that instead of having the thrill
of the peep show we have the self-consciousness that can occur
when we chance on people we know and care about making love . . . indeed
it seems to me one of the triumphs of the film that it so successfully
de-eroticizes sex [for the viewer, that is] that we are forced
to respond to the CHARACTERS' sexual experiences rather than
reconfigure them for our own arousal and interest . . . that, of
course, doesn't make BTW a "good" film, any more than a similar
strategy is enough to make BLUE VELVET a good film -- but i don't think
it makes any sense to condemn the film for pandering
mike frank
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