Sunday, December 27, 2020

That Was a Movie Watch: Salome's Last Dance (1988)

Watched:  12/26/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ken Russell

So...  I'm always on the hunt for something new to watch with folks during Friday Night Watch Parties.  For some reason unknown to me, Salome's Last Dance (1988) popped up as a suggestion from Amazon, and after reading the description - roughly: Oscar Wilde attends a production of his banned play performed in a brothel - I was like "huh, no idea.  Let's look."  

I got maybe 45 seconds in and saw "Directed by Ken Russell", and know more about Russell's reputation than his actual work, which is always at least *interesting* if you've seen Altered States, Lair of the White Worm or even Tommy.  So - I gave it a whirl.

It's a movie.  I don't know that I'd pitch anyone on it.  It was *interesting* but I can't imagine it was particularly scandalous in the film scene of 1988.  I just don't know who it's for, exactly.  There's an allegorical thing going on with forbidden sexuality in the play and Wilde's inevitable arrest for indecency (and the play being performed at all after being banned), but it's not an apples to apples comparison.  

Fair warning - this movie contains no small amount of nudity, sexuality in flowing abundance, and a full hour-plus of an Oscar Wilde play.  So our more sensitive viewers should at least be aware.

But - let's be honest here.  I don't know enough about Salome beyond vaguely remembered Sunday School lessons, nor Oscar Wilde's personal life or especially about Ken Russell himself to try and get all the film was digging at.  And it's not the kind of film that's going to stop and talk down to the plebes.  And that's fine - I kind of miss this kind of film existing for it's own sake.

It's also interesting to ponder that this film exists at all.  While my light internet reading turns up that the budget was either $800K or $1.3 million, it's hard to imagine something like this being created in 2020 at all as we've entered a new age of pearl clutching and self-imposed Victorian propriety in movies lest we offend the twitter armies.  In 2020, a study of Wilde and Salome would now be rejected as misogynistic pornography without a sniff of irony. 

 But, no, I am not doing this for Friday Watch Party.  No one would ever forgive me.  It's a lot.

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