6.12.2011

Pornotopia/Yugoslavia



One of the opening shots of Radley Metzger’s foray into bisexual soft-core, Score (1974).  It was actually shot in Yugoslavia, but some cheeky voice-over narration identifies it as “the city of Leisure,” located “in the lush land of Plenty, in the enviable state of Affluence, bordering on Decadence to the north and the state of Euphoria to the south.”  It’s set up as a kind of fairy tale for adults only.  In the story that unfolds (and since this film dates from an era when pornography and narrative film were not always mutually exclusive it really is a story, with fairly well-developed characters and moderately good dialogue), a married couple introduces their younger friends to the pleasures of swinging.  And they all live happily ever after. 

The film calls to mind Linda Williams’ theory that pornography represents various kinds of utopias, alternate realities in which sex is both the only real problem and its only solution.  In a so-called “dissolved” film, the line between realism and fantasy has totally fallen away; these films take place in an imagined world where social problems do not exist, where sex is pretty close to being freely available for and with anyone, and where the chief concern is the maximization of sexual pleasure.  These films don’t take place in real times or places like Yugoslavia; they take place in parallel universes that are entirely fantastical—like “the city of Leisure."

Score isn’t entirely cordoned-off from the world outside the bedroom; its three male characters have jobs, for instance, and the younger couple (given the cute 70s names Betsy and Eddie) suffer, ever so briefly, from what could be called “hang-ups.”  (She’s a prim-and-proper type with a Catholic school background; he hasn’t fully, um, grasped his sexual attraction to men.)  The plot of the film, then, depicts the falling away of these inhibitions at the hands of the older couple.  By the end of the film, desires are quenched, marital problems resolved, and sex has been proven the remedy for everything.  So Score takes place with one foot inside “the real world” of social pressures and psychological neuroses and one foot in “pornotopia,” where such problems are conveniently solved in the bedroom. 

Score also reveals itself to be of the era in which erotics films adopted a kind of arty visual scheme--kaleidoscopic lighting, glittering mise-en-scene, elaborate use of mirrors and glass.  See screen-grabs below, or check out the whole film, which has been recently been released on DVD and Blu-Ray from Cult Epics.  It's an interesting reminder that in the days before the glut of Internet porn filmmakers like Metzger had succeeded in bringing together sex, plot, character, dialogue, and art direction. 





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