email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training12 and Holding3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days49 Up5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band56 UpA Beautiful MindA Dangerous MethodA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA.M. EnergyAbout SchmidtAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAddictionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlexander the LastAM/PM YogaAmerican TeacherAthlete's Guide to YogaAutism and MeBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBeautiful DreamersBecoming OrgasmicBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond HatredBilly the KidBlue Is the Warmest ColorBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBoy InterruptedBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBreath-Centered YogaBuying SexCalm Body Clear MindCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberCinema's Sinister PsychiatristsCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingClassical Pilates Technique DVDClimatesCoastCollege Inc.Comedy IncarnateCommuneCompulsionControlCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCriminal JusticeCriminal Justice 2DahmerDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDark Beginnings of Sherlock HolmesDarwin's Brave New WorldDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDeleuze and the Concepts of CinemaDetox YogaDirty Filthy Love DVDDoc Martin Series 2Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEl Doctor, Joy Street & AsparagusElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthics at the CinemaEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Examined LifeExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptExileExperimenterFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFagbugFamily YogaFilm StudiesFire on the Mountain DVDFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFragile DVDGabriel & MeGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGet RIPPED! 1000 #3Get RIPPED! and Jacked - The Boomer WorkoutGirl, InterruptedGirlhoodGoddess WorshipGood FortuneHalf Broken ThingsHappy Yoga DVDHard CandyHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing VoicesHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHeimaHelvetica: A documentary filmHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHer ThirdHigh HopesHit & MissHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy IdentityIn My SkinIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Realms of the UnrealIn Treatment: Season 1Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntense Games DVDInto Great SilenceIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Kind of a Funny StoryIt's Not Me, I Swear!Janis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaJellyfishJulien Donkey-BoyJunebugKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKingdom Series 2Kingdom: Series ThreeKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLa SierraLand GirlsLand Girls Series 2Lars and the Real GirlLast Train HomeLeaving Las VegasLetting Go!Lie to Me: Season OneLife On MarsLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Listening to the WorldLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLouise BourgeoisLunacyLunar Flow YogaMad, Bad and Dangerous?MaidentripManicManufactured LandscapesMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMementoMethadoniaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMonsterMother and SonMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurderballMurderlandMurphy's LawMurphy's Law Series 2My Flesh and BloodMy Sister's KeeperMysterious CreaturesNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1New American TeenagersNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNew Sex Now DVDNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNormalNotes on a ScandalNurembergOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOrgasm Inc.Pain Free at WorkPeople Like OurselvesPeople Love PhotosPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPhantom Museums DVDPhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhrenologyPieces of AprilPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPink Ribbons, Inc.PollockPop & MePornographyPornographyPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPrince of PrisonersPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProofProzac NationPsycho ThrillersPublic EnemiesPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQuick Blast MethodRachel Getting MarriedRadiant Heart Yoga DVDRain ManRated X - A Journey Through PornReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaRelative StrangersRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsRequiem for a Dream DVDResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDScreening SexSeeing Fictions in FilmSeeing the LightSergeant Cribb - The Complete SeriesSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDShameShort Term 12SickoSmashedSolar Flow Yoga DVDSpeakSpecial TreatmentSpectacular NowStarting Out in the EveningStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStephen Fry in AmericaStrandedStranger Than FictionStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSunset StorySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2SylviaSynecdoche New YorkTai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTarnationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTemple GrandinTen Zen Tummy TonersTerrence MalickThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe ClassThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Devil, ProbablyThe f WordThe f WordThe f WordThe F Word - Series ThreeThe f Word -- Series FourThe FIRM Power Yoga DVDThe Horse BoyThe Matrix and PhilosophyThe Medicated ChildThe Perfect ExerciseThe Philosophy of Motion PicturesThe Power of ForgivenessThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe SavagesThe Snake PitThe Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Street Complete CollectionThe Suicide TouristThe Three Faces of EveThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Way Way BackThinThinking XXXThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThrough A Dog's EyesThrough Deaf EyesThumbsuckerTierney GearonTo the WonderToday and TomorrowTotal-Body ToningTransTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTrial and RetributionTrial and Retribution: Set 1Trial and Retribution: Set 3Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUnderstanding LoveUnforgettableUp the YangtzeV-Core WorkoutViniyoga Therapy for AnxietyViniyoga Therapy for DepressionViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersWaking LifeWalk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWall: A World DividedWeight Loss Cardio KickWhat Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWhat to Do When Someone DiesWhen Did You Last See Your Father?When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas after ColumbusWrinklesWristcutters: A Love StoryWrong Side of the BusYin Yoga DVDYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogawomanYoung@HeartYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVD
In 1899 the Evening World magazine ran an article which said that for the first time in the history of the world it is possible to see what a kiss looks like. It then opined that "...the idea has limitless possibilities." Linda Williams has undertaken an in-depth consideration of these possibilities, and their limits, in her new work, which follows many of the themes and preoccupations of her previous book Hard Core.
Her basic thesis is that as a culture we have begun to develop a cinema-mediated sexual consciousness, and are in a reflexive relationship that both drives and responds to evolving understandings of sexuality, its representation and its expression. What happens on the screen also happens in our bedrooms (or kitchen tables, hot tubs or staircases) and vice versa -- both what we do and how we think about it. She charts this over the past century, although the preponderance of the book is concerned with the last forty years. She also covers a range of film genres, including the overtly pornographic, the soi-disant artistic, the cult and the mainstream.
She intersperses a deep understanding of film and cultural criticism, often founded in a feminist critique, with more personal insights and readers may be reminded of their first exposure to sex on the screen (although it might have been possible to discuss both television and video a little more). It becomes possible to conjecture how we learn to kiss by watching Clark Gable clinch Vivian Leigh, or that we learn both to experiment with and accept the sex we see on the screen.
Particularly interesting sections include her examination of the notion of the gaze (which is often seen to male), portrayal of women and gay sex, although it may be noted that she does not deal with questions of race in any great detail. In looking at (pardon the pun) gay sex, she devotes substantial space to Brokeback Mountain which tried to portray love as much as sex. When she reviews the representation of women she is concerned with both sexuality and sexualization. There is also a theme in which she seems to suggest that the history of the representation of sex in the cinema has parallels with an individual's evolution. It may begin with sneaked kisses and backroom sniggers, and there may be a period of overt declarations of identity, often associated here with graphic presentations of what she calls the "hydraulics of sex". It seems there may be an adolescent need to display and shock -- sometimes this may involve contorted positions particularly suited to a rather invasive camera angle, or an emphasis on anatomical size that most of us (perhaps fortunately) do not possess. It may be that this was a stage our culture had to go through and it is to be hoped that this rather bleak and aggressive portrayal, often devoid of love or eroticism may then give way to a more mature, more adult, more satisfying and richer experience.
Williams would not like to conflate nudity per se with sex and it becomes significant to ask at some point not so much what you can portray on the screen, for now we have mainstream films with real rather than simulated sex, with erections and penetrations, with cunnilingus and fellatio, with close-up and inside as well as money shots, but rather what is necessary to portray. What is the point? -- in the most sensible and straightforward interpretation of the question. How does the representation of sex on the screen, in a particular film, add to our engagement with the story or the characters? How, if it does not sound too pompous, does it enrich our experience of the film and our understanding of our selves? Perhaps it doesn't, perhaps it does. It just seems important to ask the question. There is the related issue of real rather than simulated sex and what is and how far is something a representation when it is real? Would we draw the line and real violence, although it happens in the real world? Killing real people, perhaps? Would we applaud or condone child abuse? Why are we assured that "no animals were injured in the making of this film"? Is there confusion in speaking about simulations and documents in the same way? Can we support Bazin's argument, perhaps ad absurdo, that if we can be shown unsimulated sex, we can be shown unsimulated violence? This also brings to mind Laurence Olivier's oft-quoted remark to the Lee Strasberg Method-influenced Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man, "Have you ever considered acting?" Are we watching actors, performers or exhibitionists?
It would seem that the truly erotic is a difficult note to hit; it is all too easy to be dull and boring or laughable and ridiculous. Williams explores the questions of romance, sex and sexuality -- and they very rarely seem to be the same thing. It is particularly important for her to look to the future, as well as the past, again seeing cinematic representation as both a mirror and a sign post; indicating both where we are and where we are going. This may be the more lasting legacy of the book.
It has been suggested that clothing is more erotic than nudity and that the imagination is more engaging than frankness, and Williams concludes by saying that the carnal knowledge in which we share on the screen "never fully reveals the scratch we imagine "it" to be, but the itch that keeps us scratching".
This is undoubtedly an important book in an under-researched area. It may not really appeal to the general reader but will prove interesting and informative for students of film and in related areas of cultural studies. It is well-researched, thoroughly documented and referenced and written in an accessible but still scholarly manner.
© 2009 Mark Welch
Mark Welch, British Columbia, 2008.