Saturday, January 16, 2010

last tango in paris, proximity to truth (pt 5)

(one thing I forgot to say about paul's childhood. he tells jeanne that his mother's alcoholism got her arrested a lot and, because it was a small, farming community, EVERYONE KNEW.)

jeanne and tom's movie continues....

tom doesn't like jeanne's new look which is much more casual than before.
if you google for images of maria schneider, it's probably going to be the first images to come up... her with curly hair and light (or no) makeup.

"it's my hair!" jeanne tells him, which sounds as if her hair is naturally very curly and she'd been straightening it before.

also, the color is dark brown which appears to be maria schneider's natural color, at least.

so, tom's taste is the more made-up, groomed jeanne. this seems to hold for her appearance in the movie and his personal preference.

he does drop it when she starts to get upset. and, it's important to note, he gives no indication that he wishes to end their relationship based on something so superficial.

for his part, paul says nothing about the change although he mostly sees jeanne wearing little to no clothing because, unlike tom, he doesn't spend time with her as she goes about her life.

tom has some cloyingly romantic scenes for jeanne... it's possible he simply thought her former look would match these scenes better than her current look. these scenes also feature tom, of course.

jeanne goes to visit paul in the apartment. WE know paul has been dealing with his mother-in-law, maurice, etc. jeanne, for her part, is miffed at tom and her mom. so, despite paul's plans... the real world is seeping into their arrangement.

paul is sitting on the floor eating bread and cheese and drinking bottled water. when jeanne arrives, he asks her to get the butter from the refrigerator.

this annoys jeanne because first, he didn't answer when she called him (it's a big apartment) and second, she had a surprise and he's barely paying attention to her. she gets the butter and throws it at him.

she tells him an american eating cheese and drinking water in an apartment isn't interesting. (the french have a more interesting way of doing it? lol)
she's hidden her surprise so, even though she has paul's attention, he doesn't know about it yet.

bored, jeanne starts goofing around with the apartment by knocking on the floor. she finds a hollow place. the carpet above it clearly has been cut out and replaced.
this gets paul's attention. it's a bit hard to describe... he'd been sort of lounging and he looked at her upside down... when he decides to go over to where she is, he does a sort of backflip to a standing position, then joins her on the floor... this is a suggestion that paul is much more athletic than your average middle-aged hotel owner.

he suggests they open the hiding place. jeanne becomes nervous and says they should leave it alone. she doesn't know why... but she knows she doesn't want to open it.

paul indicates her jeans and asks if he can open that? maybe there's gold and jewels inside? it's important to note that both paul and jeanne are fully dressed at this point... this is one of the few times we see them hanging around the apartment wearing clothes...

so, as paul and jeanne continue what seems to be something much like what they usually do... we notice paul is bring the butter closer...

suddenly, paul flips jeanne over on her stomach. "you want to know about family secrets?" he asks.

jeanne, surprised at this strange turn, is struggling. paul holds her down and pulls her pants down. he applies the butter and while he sodomizes her, he has her repeat some very odd things.

jeanne, crying, does her best to comply. unfortunately, I don't know everything he says and jeanne never manages to repeat every word, but it starts with "the church of the good citizen league" and contains lines like "there is nothing but oppression and freedom."

one thing that's widely known now that perhaps wasn't in the 1970s is that sodomy is a big part of initiations into secret societies. so, paul is most likely re-enacting something that happened to him.

maria schneider says this scene wasn't in the original script. she says this scene was a last minute improvisation by marlon brando. he told her not to worry, "it's only a movie." but she says she wishes she'd known to call her agent and protest because she felt "raped."

now, this is very interesting since they both are fully clothed (except her pants get pulled down), and the scene probably has a lot less physical contact than many other scenes. but there is something strange about this scene that has caused it to be probably the most famous sex scene in the movie.

a lot of write-ups about this scene show pictures of jeanne in the bathtub. that is a completely different scene that takes place on a later day (in movie time).

later, after paul wakes up, jeanne is messing about with a record player. this is her surprise: music. she tells him she can't get it to work. he comes over and immediately is shocked by the plug. he knows jeanne did this on purpose and there's some indication that he takes this as her revenge for the butter scene.

the music is something jeanne likes. she immediately disassociates while listening to it (which is a bit weird).

so, the butter scene is now behind them and their relationship seems to enter another phase...

to be continued...


Anonymous said...

I just watched the movie last night, for the first time, and was very interested to read your little commentary. :) Just thought I might help out by including some more info for anyone else who passes through here.

1. During "butter scene" Paul says the following and forces her to repeat after him:
"I'm gonna tell you about the family. A holy institution meant to breed virtue in savages. Holy family..Church of good citizens...The children are tortured until they tell their first lie. Where the world is broken by repression. Where freedom is assassinated by egotism. Family. You f*ing family."

When he reaches the word "freedom" she bangs her fists on the floor and repeatedly shouts it back at him.

2. Paul lounging on the floor in strange, distorted positions & the subsequent backflip come after the butter scene is over, and not before. In fact I just read something about that part possibly being a direct reference to the works of Francis Bacon, whose art is featured in the opening credits of the film.

shampoo said...

hi! i'm glad you liked it! :)

i just was going back through my old posts and discovered your comment... thanks for the extra information.

i knew what he was saying was important (and strange), i missed a couple of words so i appreciate you writing it out.

that's also interesting about the backflip, etc. thanks. :)