Saturday, 21 July 2007

To Begin and End with the "Allegro" from Beethoven's 7th Symphony:
Tiresia, Irréversible & the image of the "she-male" in French film

Tiresia (2003)

"Tiresia is a strange, mesmerizing experience. The story is loosely based around a Greek myth in which a mortal experiences life as both male then female. Transposed to contemporary France,
the myth is retold through the relationship of a beautiful Brazilian transsexual prostitute Tiresia, and Terranova, her silent, enigmatic trick. Picked up in a wood, Tiresia is taken to a subterranean room and told she will remain with this Terranova forever. But without her hormone injections, Tiresia's features soon become masculine, and Terranova not only rejects, but then mutilates her, (not a scene for the sensitive amongst you), and dumps her in a field. Rescued by a young mute girl, Tiresia recovers and gains special magical insight. French cinema's passionate preoccupation with the body and its mutilation or modification as the path to some kind of mysticism is celebrated here."
Jonathan Keane

Irréversible (2002)

"[Irréversible], therefore, has its female end with its model of vaginal and productive sexuality, culminating in childbirth, and its male end with its model of anal and destructive sexuality, culminating in death. Between them is the 'she-male middle' of the two-ended tunnel where these contrasting models of sexuality encounter or find one another and one – the female – subdued by the other, the more aggressive of the two. Besides the obvious personification of this 'she-male' image in the prostitute scene, there is Alex with her gender-ambiguous name, struggling between acceptance and rejection of the male sexual paradigm. She is not an object, she tells Marcus in the bedroom scene after he suggests that he stole her from Pierre. It is the woman who makes such decisions, she tells him. But we gather from Bellucci and Cassel's nuanced acting that her reprimand is playful and Marcus' acceptance of it downright insincere, a suggestion confirmed by the ensuing shower scene in which Marcus kisses Alex through the shower curtain, she, wrapped in plastic, packaged, a commodity, an object."
Yaniv Eyny and A. Zubatov

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