Explicit Cinema by Rodrigo Gerace

Even though I prefer writing in English in my blog to gather a wider public, it becomes tricky when I find amazing materials in Portuguese that are not available in other languages. That’s the case with this amazing book by Rodrigo Gerace, Cinema Explícito, or Explicit Cinema that was published in Brazil not that long ago. But since the book is so great, I’ve decided to talk about it here since people who follow my blog realize that I tend to have a certain interest for the weird and polemic in cinema.

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As I’ve said in the post about my creativity through books, we can find one about almost any subject, and I was surprised by seeing a book about only explicit cinema in Brazil, since most of these subjects are usually published internationally. However, when I started reading it, I’ve realized the material of the book was one of the firsts published in general. As Rodrigo writes in his introduction, the book questions the explicit of sex in cinema through different narrative propositions, esthetics and politics on scene; from avant-garde and underground films to Luís Buñuel, Almodóvar, Andy Warhol, Pasolini, Von Trier, Kenneth Anger, Catherine Breillat and Bruce LaBruce – simply some of my heroes in life.

Gerace also does not only trace the history of explicit cinema itself, but question and explains to the reader the difference between cinema and porn, the significance of the obscene, the acceptance of the erotic in society and how it transgressed throughout the years. How a scene from a kiss was considered pornographic in 1905 and today is not. How the male genitalia on screen is still considered somehow taboo nowadays, and so on.

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The book itself is also a great guide for movies with such themes, as Rodrigo makes an outstanding selection of films in his filmography, talking even about super modern examples such as Blue is the Warmest Color, Stranger By the Lake, Nymphomaniac and even Gaspar Noé’s Love. You will also find mentions of the first pornographic movies in the silent era and homoerotic content of the golden age of Hollywood.

This is a remarkable study considering the representation of the beauty of the human body is traced back from Greek and Egyptian paintings to nude photographs. The first studies of moving images by Muybridge consisted of naked men walking, fighting, playing and dancing, which is considered one of the first homoerotic representations in cinema. This was obviously affected when cinema itself began, when they were made of 15-second clips of people dancing or performing a trick. Since the beginning people watch movies to have fun, to see the beautiful. This, of course, get’s complicated with the invention of a cinema language, or movie grammar, that along with a narrative and the representation of reality, sex and eroticism comes to life, along with it’s problems and questions in society and religion. I believe that’s why I like this subject so much, and Rodrigo Gerace presents what we can call an amazing thesis, to say the least, about the representation of sex in cinema. Maybe we can see this book crossing oversea one day? Hopefully.