Five days to Fifty Shades.
Five days from now a mainstream movie featuring BDSM will hit silver screens across the country. With all the hype about Fifty Shades of Grey you might be forgiven for expecting some huge leap forward in cinematic history; expectation around this film in advance of its release is something akin to a couple of young teenage boys discovering Dad’s secret porn stash. But let’s be honest here. This is precisely how the film going public have always behaved about such themes since films first started to be shown. For decades we have seen the cinema as a safe haven where we can experience and indulge in fantasies which would be considered shocking when the lights go up.
I can still remember the fuss over such milestones as the 1971 A Clockwork Orange and the 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which marked climactic points in the cinema’s relationship with ‘torture porn’. These days, with such things as the recurring Saw franchise, we see them as somewhat tame. Of course some are still considered too much, and for example P.P. Passolini’s 1975 Saló, or 120 Days of Sodom still generates enough discomfort to be banned in several countries.
The BDSM themes do not have to be complex. The history of film making is paved with tales of beautiful people made to suffer for hours on end until release, escape, rescue or demise. Their predicament is staged in order to titillate us, and we love it. We get to witness our most outrageous fantasies without fear of consequence, no matter how socially unacceptable they might be in our real lives.
Of course we would never admit to being aroused or shocked by a movie because that’s just not cool. Countless great film directors have taught us how to be complete hypocrites about our voyeuristic love of BDSM in film.
If Fifty Shades is to mark any new cinematic milestone it should be the one where we come out. It’s time to declare our love of all things kinky, sado-masochistic and fetishist.
In a considered bit of marketing, Universal have not allowed any advanced screenings of Fifty Shades to journalists or critics. Clearly there was a commercial decision made, that any less than glowing early reviews might effect the huge advanced sales of tickets. It already looks as though in it’s first weekend (Valentines weekend too) the film will out gross it’s closest mainstream relation, the 2002 film Secretary. Who could forget sexy Maggie Gyllenhall being ordered to crawl on all fours to her boss James Spader?
If you thought that BDSM and Kink were the prerogative of less mainstream or arthouse films you might be surprised. Let’s consider the most famous kinky slave scene in all of cinematic history. How many millions of men (and a few women) were squirming in their seats at the sight of Princess Leia in a gold bikini? It was not her costume alone but the fact that she was collared and chained to her Master Jabba The Hutt and the film was the huge 1983 hit, Return of the Jedi.
As the title of this post suggests, I’m counting down to Friday’s release of the ‘That film’, so come back tomorrow for day 4 and a look at why the film should be able to bypass some of the negatives of the book.