Good Old Naughty Days
Polissons et galipettes
review by Carrie
Gorringe, 20 June 2003
Seattle International Film Festival
Plus ça change, plus c'est
la même chose…If there's anything to be learned from the
compilation of silent pornography entitled The Good Old Naughty
Days, it's that pornography has only become more slickly
packaged – and not much more compelling as a genre, ten billion
dollars a year in receipts notwithstanding. Director (name) has provided a selection of shorts,
made in France between 1905 and 1925 (including, rather
inexplicably, the American-made animated "classic" from
1925, Buried Treasure).
These shorts, we are informed via
subtitles, were shown at "the best brothels" (to put this
in context, prostitution was legal in France until 1946, when
accusations of collaboration with the Nazis put the quaintly-named maisons
de tolérance out of business).
The usual cast of taboos -- especially those concerning the
putative sex lives of nuns and abbots --are trotted out for
observation, with a mild dash of bestiality for variety's sake.
There's even male-on-male fellatio and anal sex, two elements
almost unheard of in modern heterosexual porn.
Unfortunately, the novelty of
observing this heretofore unseen side of early twentieth-century
sexuality soon gives way to fighting sleep;
regardless of one's personal opinions concerning the effects
of porn, one has to agree that a group of films characterized by
clumsy framing, irrelevant close-ups, awkward pans, and performers
who keep casting glances at the camera do much to savage the very
element fantasy on which the genre is built;
the "money shots" on display here seem almost an
afterthought, in contrast to the slick production values inherent in
their modern counterparts. Even
allowing for the amateur status of the filmmakers, the films end up
generating derision and boredom.
Seattle International Film Festival: