Talk about Lolitta(1997)

       In terms of the love film content, eroticism is not a common element in love films. Eroticism is not a necessity for a love film, but it helps to express the subtle relationship among lovers which can not express in word.

The article Crash ‘Not a Film about pornography-a love story’ has a discussion on the eroticism in film Crash that the impact of eroticism divides critics upon the film. People comment as “it shows us what pornography might look like if it were made with imagination, intelligence and daring”, “it makes pornography safe and elegant” and so on. This reminds me of a question keep questioning myself, that what makes a love film with erotic scenes distinguishing from a pornography film? Professor Laura U.Marks’s article Video haptics and erotics offer a direction to think about this question. In her argument, she firstly defines haptic perception as “the combination of tactile, kinesthetic, and proprioceptive functions, the way we experience touch both on the surface of and inside our bodies”. Usually, this kind of tactile or haptic visuality has the capacity to trigger a chain of reactions within the physical body initiated from the optical visuality, and it “tend to rest on the surface of its object rather than plunge into depth, tend not to distinguish form so much as discerning texture”. The notion “Cinematic perception is not merely (audio)visual but synaesthetic” which she argues in the article becomes the breakthrough point to think about the problem of how to distinguish pornography and erotic love film. Marks argues that “the act of viewing, seen in the terms of existential phenomenology, is one in which both I and the object of my vision constitute each other.” which indicates that the essential quality of viewing is a form of mutually constitutive exchange. However, to some extent, the erotic moving image is not able to form such a mutually constitutive exchange because the erotic moving image tends to be a direct conversation between moving images on the screen and the human body. What eroticism do is unilaterally deliver erotic images to the spectators and stimulate the spectator’s senses but does not necessarily need the spectators to respond to the eroticism. Hence, the limitation of pornography is that it functions only as a body sense stimulation but does not necessarily plunge into depth. However, eroticism in love film has a totally different function. Since erotism in love film is one of the techniques of expression, so the erotic scene in love film does not only work as a body senses stimulation but also a medium or a bridge to understanding the characters and the love between them. To understand the love relationship hidden behind the erotic scene require spectators to develop their subjectivity upon the moving image which forms the mutually constitutive exchange. In a love film, such a mutually constitutive exchange is necessary to create a renderable and emotional love story. And this trait of erotic love film makes it essentially distinguishing from pornography.  In the film Lolitta(1997), the erotic scenes reflect the importance of mutually constitutive exchange and the importance of haptic visuality. In the scene when Lolitta and Humbert are first night together in a hotel, the Dim dark blue light and the ambiguous atmosphere are foreshowing the next step of their relationship. However, the physical body is never exposed in the scene as to present eroticism. The camera utilizes a close-up shoot to focus on Lolitta’s leg slowly moves toward Humbert under the bedsheet. She asks Humbert to get some water for her, after she finished drinking, she leaned her mouth on Humbert’s shoulder and wiped her mouth with his clothes. In the later scene, Humbert finds out a box of money which Lolitta probably earn it by selling her body. The two are naked in the darkroom, and their emotional conflicts are mixed together with the erotic scene. The expression of emotion in these scenes is sufficient to stand alone even without dialogues because of the effectiveness of haptic cinematic experience on spectatorship.

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