June 6, 2013

"Blue Is the Warmest Color" — that movie about lesbians that won the grand prize at Cannes — is hated by...

... the lesbian who wrote the graphic novel upon which the movie was based. And by "graphic novel," I don't mean that it has detailed descriptions of the sexual act. (The movie, however, has a 10-minute sex sequence that the author calls pornographic.) What I mean is what the NYT is referring to as a "comic book-novel" to avoid the ambiguity that appears in my first sentence.

Here's the Wikipedia article for "graphic novel":
The term "graphic novel" was first used in 1964; it was popularized within the comics community after the publication of Will Eisner's A Contract with God in 1978, and became familiar with the public in the late 1980s after the commercial successes of the first volume of Spiegelman's Maus, Moore and Gibbons's Watchmen, and Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Book Industry Study Group added "graphic novel" as a category in book stores.
Oh, but the author-artist of "Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude," Julie Maroh, will be stuck with the less respectful terminology as the topic under discussion is porn. Her book has sensitive images like this:



And the movie doesn't capture what she meant to convey.
Noting that the director and actresses are “all straight, unless proven otherwise,” she said that with few exceptions, the film struck her as “a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex, which turned into porn.”

Even worse, she said, “everyone was giggling.”

Heterosexual viewers “laugh-ed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous.

“The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing, and find it ridiculous,” she continued. “And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were” the “guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen.”
But what do you expect when a commercial movie is made from a book? The story is much less about the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters, and what's on the screen are superficial images, particularly beautiful faces and bodies, and the audience is invited to gaze and feel whatever they feel. The movie director,  Abdellatif Kechiche, said:
“What I was trying to do when we were shooting these scenes was to film what I found beautiful,” he said. “So we shot them like paintings, like sculptures. We spent a lot of time lighting them to ensure they would look beautiful; after, the innate choreography of the loving bodies took care of the rest, very naturally.”
So, like many, many movies — perhaps nearly all movies — this movie is about how beautiful women are. Meanwhile, we learn that the actresses were not as naked as they look. "We were wearing prostheses," one says, mysteriously.

72 comments:

Scott M said...

Julie Maroh, hello. I would like to introduce you to Max Brooks.

madAsHell said...

I haven't seen the movie, but We were wearing prostheses.

Penis envy!

Bob Ellison said...

This comment is beneath me.

Ann Althouse said...

Apparently the prostheses were female genitalia worn over the 19-year-old actresses' own genitalia, so that what we see for 10 minutes that looks like genital contact counts a simulated sex and not real. Whether that was done so the argument could be made that it's not hardcore pornography or whether it was done to create super-beautiful, ready-for-my-closeup genitalia, I don't know.

Maybe the way that looks is part of why some people were laughing.

Misinforminimalism said...

Aren't we just talking about Merkins here? Anything more anatomically correct than that would be...creepy.

And since you've raised this movie again, I feel compelled, again, to note that the protagonist - the participant in this have-to-add-fake-genitalia-to-avoid-being-hardcore-porn - is 15 years old. Giggling (or the other reactions mentioned) seems inappropriate, to say the least.

Anthony said...

I don't really think anyone has to go to a goofy art film to "feast their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen" IYKWIMAITTYD.

Nonapod said...

I think graphic novel creators have more to complain about when they're not happy with a movie adaption of their work because they've already made specific visual representations of the characters and scenes. There's not quite as much that's up to interpretation and imagination as there is in a novel.

Anthony said...

Oh, and wearing prostheses is cheating. Like wearing a skort. Bad form.

caplight45 said...

My old friend, James Ellroy, who wrote the novel "L.A. Confidential" but did not write the screen play for the movie, is on record that the film truly captures the book and that when he thinks of the characters now he sees them in his mind as the actors who portrayed them. Sometimes the movie can exceed the writer's expectations. And, yes, Kim Basinger was beautiful.

Tim said...

All this trouble and expense for a movie...when porn is free on the Internet.

Or so I read.

rcommal said...

I didn't think it possible for me to want to see this movie *less *. Turns out, it is.

Ann Althouse said...

"And since you've raised this movie again, I feel compelled, again, to note that the protagonist - the participant in this have-to-add-fake-genitalia-to-avoid-being-hardcore-porn - is 15 years old. Giggling (or the other reactions mentioned) seems inappropriate, to say the least."

The actresses are both 19 (I read).

edutcher said...

Fake twats?

What, 4 inch clits?

I didn't know there, what?, lip falsies.

Titus will be happy.

Ann Althouse said...

"All this trouble and expense for a movie...when porn is free on the Internet."

This is something you can go to see on the big screen and feel sophisticated about seeing. It's something a man can take his female companion to see along with him without that creepy feeling of watching porn. It's porn with deniability.

Or something.

We'll see what people do.

The one time I watched porn — as part of a federal court obscenity case — I was with 2 female law clerks and one male law clerk. The females all laughed, and the male left the room.

Lem said...

The sex act, between the more common pairs, looks inherently? ridiculous enough as it is, without pushing an already delicate and subtle artistic impression or whatever.

I'm trying to say something profound w/o putting on airs, layers...

And I think that's what I'm trying to say... the disparate presentation of naked people, pretending to wear something subtle, that they are supposed to convey to each other during the supposed love making all in the hope that the camera captures it... is too much to expect.

I suspect this from having watched a few graphic videos ;)

Lem said...

I haven't seen the film, so my comment is just speculation...

Misinforminimalism said...

"The actresses are both 19 (I read)."

Oh, I wasn't suggesting otherwise, and I apologize for any confusion. But just as it's child porn when it's just a drawing (as is codified in the USC), when you've got a movie depicting a 15 year old in these types of scenes, that's a problem

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Although said

" This is something you can go to see on the big screen and feel sophisticated about seeing. It's something a man can take his female companion to see along with him without that creepy feeling of watching porn. It's porn with deniability."

Guys don't "watch" porn. Guys use porn. What is a guy supposed to do crank one off sitting next to his date? Convince her to go down on him? All while surrounded by blue haired old women watching "art"'

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

All this trouble and expense for a movie...when porn is free on the Internet.

This is something you can go to see on the big screen and feel sophisticated about seeing. It's something a man can take his female companion to see along with him without that creepy feeling of watching porn. It's porn with deniability.

Or something.


Don't count on it. People know, "Yechh", when they see it and I think few wives will want to go even if it is shown in an "art" house.

It sounds like Bruce Willis trying to justify that "Basic Instinct" knock-off he made.

betamax3000 said...

Re: "porn with deniability"

Better than "Porn with Cruel Neutrality": that Stuff is Hard to Watch. And Everyone is Moaning in German.



Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Although = Althouse

Stupid android

Lem said...

Giggling (or the other reactions mentioned) seems inappropriate, to say the least.

If you pay admission and its a joke... its a joke.

Why pretend it isn't?

Icepick said...

Funny, when you wrote "graphic novel" I just assumed you meant a fancy comic book. (That's not meant to be disparaging, as I like the form. If I was trying to not be disparaging I would normally say "graphic novel", but I'm too lazy to think of another term, and I find the NYT's description weak.)

As for the movie missing the mark of the book: If you are an author selling your material to a film production company, just assume they're going to fuck it up.

Lem said...

"The actresses are both 19 (I read)."

Althouse only concerned is that the i's are doted and t's are crossed.

edutcher said...

Icepick said...

Funny, when you wrote "graphic novel" I just assumed you meant a fancy comic book.

That's all they are, really.

Strelnikov said...

Gee, that is a shocker: Writer of book does not like the movie adaptation. What next?

chrisnavin.com said...

I still think people mashing movies and narrative and comic books with the latest technology could be as or more successful than big box office weekends for comic book movies.

That's where a lot of the culture is.

SeanF said...

Misinforminimalism: But just as it's child porn when it's just a drawing (as is codified in the USC), when you've got a movie depicting a 15 year old in these types of scenes, that's a problem

Check again. It's only illegal under US law if it involved an actual, real-life, underage person. Representations of underage sex - including animations, drawings, older-actors-playing-younger, and text descriptions - are protected by the First Amendment.

Icepick said...

My old friend, James Ellroy, who wrote the novel "L.A. Confidential" but did not write the screen play for the movie, is on record that the film truly captures the book and that when he thinks of the characters now he sees them in his mind as the actors who portrayed them. Sometimes the movie can exceed the writer's expectations.

I didn't come to Ellroy's novels until a couple of years ago. Somehow I haven't seen LA Confidential since reading the novel, and now I see an entirely different group of people when I think of the movie. I don't have a problem with Exley, Vincennes and Bracken, but I have real problems now with Hudgens (who should look and sound like Ellroy's public persona), White (who should be huge - though Crowe does manage to get the testosterone level right) and Smith, who should be younger.

And for those that haven't read the book, the movie cuts about four major plot lines and truncates others. That's not a knock on the movie, as it would have been about ten hours long otherwise.

Icepick said...

It's something a man can take his female companion to see along with him without that creepy feeling of watching porn.

No creepy feeling? Then what's the point?!

The one time I watched porn — as part of a federal court obscenity case — I was with 2 female law clerks and one male law clerk. The females all laughed, and the male left the room.

Needed a few minutes to "wash his hands", no doubt!

Lem said...

Gee, that is a shocker: Writer of book does not like the movie adaptation.

I suspect if people had pretended to... you know, not giggle during the movie... she might be telling a different story.

In the "graphic novel" the reader wears all the hats. if you will... Whereas on the screen the burden of proof is on the film maker.

Icepick said...

What is a guy supposed to do crank one off sitting next to his date? Convince her to go down on him? All while surrounded by blue haired old women watching "art"'

Well, that would certainly bring back the creepy feeling! And how do you know you won't be surrounded by blue haired YOUNG women watching art?

SeanF said...

Misinforminimalism: But just as it's child porn when it's just a drawing (as is codified in the USC), when you've got a movie depicting a 15 year old in these types of scenes, that's a problem

Check again. It's only illegal under US law if it involved an actual, real-life, underage person. Representations of underage sex - including animations, drawings, older-actors-playing-younger, and text descriptions - are protected by the First Amendment.

Lem said...

After watching Chips bake porn? I feel like saying the proof is in the pudding.

George Grady said...

Heterosexual viewers “laugh-ed because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous.

“The gay and queer people laughed because it’s not convincing, and find it ridiculous,” she continued. “And among the only people we didn’t hear giggling were” the “guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of their fantasies on screen.”


When heterosexual and homosexual people react in the exact same way, it's because the heterosexuals don't understand (what's to understand, anyway?), and the homosexuals understand only all too well. This is a lot like Althouse's Law: Female is better than male, even when it's not; but here it's: Gay is better than straight, even when it's not.

And would "graphical novel" work better than "graphic novel" or "comic book novel"?

Lem said...

Obama won a Nobel without even writing a Novel.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So, like many, many movies — perhaps nearly all movies — this movie is about how beautiful women are.

The movie 300, also from a graphic novel ( and also graphic, of the violent variety ) was not so much about how beautiful women are.

Scott M said...

The movie 300, also from a graphic novel ( and also graphic, of the violent variety ) was not so much about how beautiful women are.

I get that they were doing a panel for panel depiction of the graphic novel and, the first time seeing it on the big screen, I gave them a complete pass for the costumes because so much else was done so well.

It doesn't survive repeated viewings, however, and I don't know if this bodes well for the upcoming sequel.

Lem said...

So, like many, many movies — perhaps nearly all movies — this movie is about how beautiful women are.

Women in the military is about how beautiful women are?

madAsHell said...

The one time I watched porn — as part of a federal court obscenity case

Sooooo.....you were watching porn at work. ;-)

Lem said...

Adult Content...

I want to say something but its so politically incorrect I'll say with another voice...

I know my mind is made up
So put away your make up
Told you once I won't tell you again it's a bad way

William said...

Who would possibly want to see a movie about how beautiful women struggle to express their sexuality? Talk about box office poison. We need more movies about old people coming to terms with their dementia and incontinence.....I've got nothing against nudity. Boobs are like raisins in the pudding. They add flavor and zest to otherwise bland offerings. Simulated sex, however, should be used sparingly and then only briefly. Sex scenes in movies are, most often, obviously phony. And when they're not, they take you out of the movie.....If you spend a couple of hours rubbing your naked body against another naked body, how will that affect your marriage when you go home?

Lem said...

Sooooo.....you were watching porn at work. ;-)

Oh c'mon, get a life ;)

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The old guard sexual revolutionaries are wondering where is the romance. Now get off my lawn!

I wonder if Hunt was influenced by the graphic scenes portrayed in this work of "art". Perhaps she was not aware of the actress's age or the prostheses employed to sanitize the "bathroom" scenes.

Dr Weevil said...

It's a bit confusing to complain about "blue haired old women watching 'art'" when the page Ann copied from the graphic novel features a youngish woman whose blue hair is the only color in the whole panel.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

William said...

We need more movies about old people... Boobs are like raisins...

Maybe you should try a couple movies with younger women...

Dr Weevil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Is it a credit to us that Althouse is sharing her only experience of the graphic kind with us or is that credit like the reaction that was expected of this movie that got a prize that didn't seem to mean much because the audience was no solemn.

I think there is a question in the form of an answer in there somewhere.

I have to go. But I'll be on the phone so I'll be half here.

Big Mike said...

But what do you expect when a commercial movie is made from a comic book?

Fixed it for you.

Ann Althouse said...

"The movie 300, also from a graphic novel ( and also graphic, of the violent variety ) was not so much about how beautiful women are."

Homosexual, with deniability. Hope you enjoyed the experience!

Ann Althouse said...

"Sooooo.....you were watching porn at work. ;-)"

I have ONLY watched porn at work.

And by porn, I mean video/film of the kind that circa 1981 need to be found obscene, because the U.S. government was confiscating as it came through the mail. They couldn't just take it. They had to get a federal judge to find it obscene.

All it was was actors actually having sex on camera, with the inning and outing well lit and shown some of the time in close up.

Colonel Angus said...

It's something a man can take his female companion to see along with him without that creepy feeling of watching porn.

If you feel creepy then you're watching the wrong kind of porn.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Homosexual, with deniability

The usual joke refers to gladiator movies, but 300 was close enough.

Methadras said...

It's all just utter, vapid nonsense. All of it.

Mitchell the Bat said...

You know what would absolutely suck?

You write a book or you produce a graphic novel or something.

And they turn it into a movie.

And you see the movie and you're deeply moved by how perfectly they understood your work and how they put it right up there on the big screen

And you can't help but think it absolutely sucks.

Matt said...

The last line by Amy Taubin most likely says it best: "If you take the sex out,” she said, “no one would be interested in this movie."

It seems as though the spirit of the graphic novel [by a lesbian] has been partly made into a movie [by a man] that exploits attractive women. Sorry to say but nothing new here.

I have a friend who saw it and thought the first two hours were good but the last hour too long. [Yes, it's a three hour movie]. He said the movie is not about the sex. But, of course, that is why many will go see it.

BTW on of the actors Léa Seydoux is 27 years old not 19. The other was 18 when the movie was made.

dbp said...

Ann Althouse said...
""The movie 300, also from a graphic novel ( and also graphic, of the violent variety ) was not so much about how beautiful women are."

Homosexual, with deniability. Hope you enjoyed the experience!"

My date to that film couldn't wait for us to get home. So it may have been the kind of thing to fill a gay man's spank bank but seemed to have the same effect on (at least one) woman too.

Crunchy Frog said...

And you can't help but think it absolutely sucks.

And the big fat royalty paycheck really sucks too.

Geoff Matthews said...

""The movie 300, also from a graphic novel ( and also graphic, of the violent variety ) was not so much about how beautiful women are."

Homosexual, with deniability. Hope you enjoyed the experience!"

Considering the myths around the Spartan's lifestyle, that was probably part of the design. It was thought that homosexuality was the norm. It wouldn't surprise me if Miller subscribed to this myth.

Rabel said...

Just a reminder that you can purchase your sexually related prosthetics through the Althouse Amazon portal.

Stay well everyone.

Misinforminimalism said...

SeanF: "It's only illegal under US law if it involved an actual, real-life, underage person."

Not according to the Justice Department: "Images of child pornography are not protected under First Amendment rights, and are illegal contraband under federal law. Section 2256 of Title 18, United States Code, defines child pornography as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. Undeveloped film, undeveloped videotape, and electronically stored data that can be converted into a visual image of child pornography are also deemed illegal visual depictions under federal law."

Lem said...

What Mitchell the Bat said...

madAsHell said...

I have ONLY watched porn at work.

To be sure, I was teasing not judging.

fivewheels said...

So straight actors aren't competent to portray lesbians? Should gay actors also be presumed unfit to portray straight people? Because that seems to happen pretty often.

Joan said...

"Le Bleu Est une Couleur Chaude" doesn't mean "blue is the warmest color." It means "blue is a warm color," which has a different meaning.

If they can't even get the title right, why expect them to do anything else correctly?

Having said that -- straight people have been playing gay characters, and gay people have been playing straight characters, for as long as acting has been around. They're actors, that's the whole point. Matt Baumer is gay but still has great on-screen chemistry with his female co-stars (except in Magic Mike, in which every single actor was devoid of charisma). Demanding a lesbian director or lesbian actors reminds me of Democrats who insist that only a woman can represent women's interests, and that only persons of color can represent non-white's interests. Too heck with all of them.

caplight45 said...

Icepick
I was fortunate to have met James Ellroy before I had read any of his fiction books or really even knew who he was. We went to the same coffee shop where my daughter worked and she brought home a copy of My Dark Places, the book about his mother's murder. I asked if I could meet with him to talk about the book and we hit it off. So I had the good fortune to read Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" in order because he guided me through it. At the time I was spending a lot of time in LA so it really made the books come alive. I regard White Jazz as the best crime novel in American fiction.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xmas said...

Rabel wins the interwebs!!!

Revenant said...

But just as it's child porn when it's just a drawing (as is codified in the USC), when you've got a movie depicting a 15 year old in these types of scenes, that's a problem

If I recall correctly the SCOTUS ruled that porn involving fictional underage characters cannot be considered child porn, although it could be considered obscene.

But regardless, the notion that something can be "child pornography" when no children were involved in its creation is deeply stupid.

Lv99 Slacker said...

The author doesn't hate the movie - just the sex scenes.

Lv99 Slacker said...

The author doesn't hate the movie - just the sex scenes.