Monday, 20 June 2011

Gay Salomé 1923 - full movie download

Full download of the 1923 movie Salomé, notorious because the cast and crew were all supposed to be gay. What do you expect, from a film that pays direct homage to Oscar Wilde? Salomé is played by Alla Nazimova who was openly gay, as was her scriptwriter and designer Natacha Rambova, the director Charles Bryant and probably others. But their sexuality isn't actually relevant, though there are many delicously camp male parts which could rate a scream on the drag circuit. What makes the film intriguing is that  it was made as direct homage to Aubrey Beardsley.

Nothing is straight in this movie, whatever the orientation of those involved. Nazimova's film uses Beardsley's stylization to create a deliberately anti-naturalistic aesthetic that reflects the unnatural nature of the plot. Arch surtitles - "Thou wert" and "Thou rejectedest me". They reflect Beardsley's own words which twist and curl as if in feverish delirium.. The sets are spartan, lots of white space, in the manner of Beardsley's etchings, which seemed shockingly alien to a world used to over-stuffed Victorian excess. Beardsley's aesthetic is  far from Alma-Tadema's hyper-realistic orientalism, which cloaked outright prurience with a veil of fake academicism. Beardsley doesn't do veils.

At the heart of this story is Herod's unclean lust for his own daughter, Salomé. Secondary dynamic is the relationship between Herod and Herodias, his long-term wife whom he treats like dirt. The Herodias in this film is much meatier than the Herodias in Beardsley - she has hair like a lion's mane and wears a leopardskin jumpsuit. Tina Turner, but 60 years too early. Female sexuality as opposed to Herod's leering infantilism. She looks at Herod with disgust. Because the set looks so neat it makes the fundamental perversion feel even more unclean.

Interestingly, Jokanaan looks exactly like Beardsley himself, only more repellent, hawk-like features and a skeletal ribcage that looks like Christ on the Cross in Spanish art. This adds a piquant twinge to the proceedings, as Jokanaan can't stop denouncing "The Whore of Babylon", as if all the sins of the world were caused by women, not men.
It's pretty strange that lesbian Nazimova really makes a point of sexual attraction. "All other men were hateful to me". Before she dies, she looks like she's having an orgasm. "The mystery of Love is greater than the mystery of Death".

Wonderful minor figures - Black executioners, little black kids in headresses as tall as they are, strangely louche male attendants (nipple rings like targets). One lusts for Salomé while the other lusts for him. Attendants dressed in crazy turbans, and in the dance, women dressed as screens, surrounding Salomé as she switches from boyish androgyny to female demon (white hair cut in angles).  The Dance is magnificently choreographed - fast forward to 44 minutes. You can see the influence of Diaghilev and Nijinsky, whom Nazimova, a Russian, would have known of, even if she hadn't seen them in action. Salomé as The Afternoon of a Faun.

While the stylization is fundamental to the whole concept of this film, it makes for semaphore acting. In 1923, this wasn't such a big deal, since moving pictures were still a novelty. But we've become used to Hollywood ultra-fast action, so we need to switch off the autopilot assumption that drama has to be fast and butch. Much like we've lost the art of appreciating music that's not raucous and exaggerated.

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