by Kathleen Bradean
Sorry I'm so late to post. I'm on the road.
I meant to talk about Perfume by Patrick Suskind this week, but I watched a Doctor Who marathon instead of finishing it. And I delivered a manuscript to my publisher. So I wasn't lazy, I simply had other priorities. However, if I really like a book, I'd never let something like a deadline or even Doctor Who keep me away from it. (the TV show. Doctor Who in real life would be an entirely different matter)
As time ticked down, I thought maybe I'd talk about The Lover by Marguerite Duras. I read it recently and it was okay, but nothing I'd rave about or even suggest to other readers. As you might guess from the types of books I'm reading, I wanted something transcendent, something about the nature of desire and the horrible things we do under its spell. I may have to return to Bataille's Story of the Eye.
So this is cheating, but I guess I'm going to have to talk about a movie. Not just any movie. The Night Porter, a 1974 film directed by Liliana Cavani, written by Tim Kallinis. I've wanted to watch this movie since I first heard about it in the 1980s but just now got the chance. Plot summary: Thirteen years after the end of WWII, a woman returns to Vienna with her husband and recognizes the night porter of their hotel as her former lover/tormentor from a prison camp. She leaves her husband and moves in with the Nazi. They want to play out their fantasies; his Nazi pals want to make sure the past stays buried.
This movie is going to send your wrongness meter pegging in so many ways. It's like everything dark and corrupt that lurks in the back of your brain and turns you on. Stuff you'd never admit to your lover no matter how much you trusted him/hir/her. Maybe having a female director elevated this story, or maybe she was the only one with enough guts to touch on some of this very demented stuff. Despite the lack of explicit sex, this movie, this story, has a seductive pull for students of eroticism. Humanity, stripped and exposed, is not easy to look at, but it's understandable.