Oct 23, 2014

Body Love

If there is anyone that can be described as a ‘baron of blue movies’ or ‘prince of pornography,’ it is most certainly Guido pornographer Lasse Braun (Penetration aka French Blue, Sensations), who was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Italian family and seemed destined to pursue a career in law (he was originally destined to be a diplomat like his father, but his doctoral dissertation proved to be so controversial that it was dismissed, so he became a pornographer instead). Indeed, unlike Radley Metzger who made films in Europe about the rich and raunchy but was really an American Jew, Braun (whose real name is apparently ‘Alberto Ferro’) was a real blue blood who, not unlike maestro Luchino Visconti in regard to melodrama, used his worldliness and distinguished background to assemble some of the most eloquent, lavish, and artistically merited fuck flicks ever made. Instead of American smut-peddlers and other rabble, Braun took his aesthetic influences from idiosyncratic sources, including the erotic novels of 18th century French novelist/commie/shoe fetishist Nicolas-Edme Rétif (who coined the word “pornography” in his pro-prostitution plea Le Pornographe (1769)), as well as the Priapistic rituals and orgiastic festivals of the Dionysus cult and ceremonies in veneration of Aphrodite (Porne), among other esoteric erotic things. Very much a child of his time, Braun was not just a decadent dago aristocrat, but also a political crusader who, using a series of pseudonyms, traveled all around Europe (including Franco's Spain and Pompidou's France) beginning in the early 1960s and created the (in)famous hardcore loops that he is famous for. Ultimately, Braun set up shop in Copenhagen (hence, his Nordic pseudonym) and the controversial doctoral dissertation that ended his academic career, Judiciary Censorship in the Western World, laid the foundation for the legalization of hardcore pornography in Denmark on 4 June 1969. While best known for his loops, Braun did direct a couple notable features, with Body Love (1978)—a wickedly wanton work about a lily-licking and leotard-wearing teenager who is forced by her blue blood baron father to be deflowered at an orgy on the night of her 18th birthday—being easily one of the greatest, if not the greatest, films of his relatively successful career. Featuring an original best-selling soundtrack by kraut electric music maestro Klaus Schulze (Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel) that is probably more famous than the film itself and starring Catherine Ringer of the French New Wave outfit Les Rita Mitsouko as the Sapphic teenage girl who is forced to endure heterosexual penetration by her pseudo-blond bastard baron father, Braun’s avant-garde fuck flick is also a European music fan’s celluloid wet dream, as a work that almost sounds as good as it looks. Shot at Groeneveld Castle in the Dutch town of Baarn, Body Love is equal parts moronic aristocratic libertinism, post-counterculture pseudo-philosophical twaddle, unintentionally hilarious pretense, and aesthetic ecstasy. 

 After doing some gymnastic stretches and watching a woman in a flashy red outfit drive off in a white Mercedes-Benz via an upstairs window in her family castle, leotard-clad 18-year-old ‘poor little rich girl’ Martine (Catherine Ringer as ‘Lolita Da Nova’) is rudely confronted by her arrogant and equally effete aristocratic father ‘The Baron’ (Jean-Gérard Sorlin), who asks her if she is ready to be “mounted” for the first time in her life tonight. Although Martine assures her father that she will accept being ritualistically deflowered in front of him and his equally sex crazed carnal comrades during an orgy, she is a lipstick lesbo with a wicked streak who loathes all men. The woman in the red outfit that Martine was previously watching from the castle window is her stepmother Glenda (Glenda Farrel), who is a famous actress that, due to her Nordic figure and blonde hair, resembles a poor man’s take on an Ingmar Bergman actress like Bibi Andersson or Liv Ullmann, albeit minus the class and melancholy demeanor. When Glenda enters the castle, she looks in a mirror and is startled to see a shabbily dressed Confederate officer staring back at her. After the mirror nonsensically cracks, Glenda runs down the stairs and is sexually ravaged by two men (one of which is wearing a confederate soldier hat) against her will. As it turns out, Glenda’s husband the Baron paid for the men to mock rape her just so he could get off to hearing the details. Indeed, it seems like, as the old stereotype goes, the Baron is an impotent aristocrat. While Glenda complains that the men who raped her had “normal cocks” and were “ordinary men, not of noble bearing like you” to the Baron, she still enjoyed being ravaged by the plebian proles because she is a naughty nymphomaniac with an unquenchable sexual appetite. 

 A spoiled little lesbo girl, Martine cannot stand the idea of her assumed girlfriend Gilda (played by Gilda Arancio, who starred in a number of Jess Franco flicks) being defiled by other people, so after a wild Sapphic sexual session involving swing-based cunnilingus and cunt-to-cunt kisses (indeed, the two ladies bump labias in a rather furious fashion), she warns her beloved, “I don’t want you to have sex with other girls or other men. You body is meant for me.” Meanwhile, Glenda talks with a small frog journalist (old school French fuck flick superstar Jack Gatteau), who is at least an entire foot shorter than her, about her acting career and how she plans to shoot a porn film in Mexico in the next couple months. When the Journalist remarks that it would cause a scandal for an actress of her caliber to star in a fuck flick, Glenda demonstrates she got a feminist lobotomy at a university by snidely remarking, “As a woman of modern times, I can do whatever I feel like…no limits.” When the journalist eats dinner with the ‘unconventional’ family, Martine proceeds to discuss how they practice meditative hippie mumbo jumbo called “sensitivity training,” but when the reporter attempts to touch the girl to try it out for himself, she immediately stops him and says “no men.” Luckily, Martine’s stepmother warns her, “Once you get the feeling of a man’s prick inside your pussy, you’ll change.” When Martine takes the Journalist outside to a fancy trailer where she has a Uruguayan sex slave (Gemma Giménez) locked up, she begins to rather reluctantly tap into her repressed heterosexual side. After bragging that the sex slave will do anything that she commands, Martine has her sensual serf pleasure the Journalist. While she does not say anything, Martine is clearly aroused by the French journalist, who will ultimately be the one who deflowers her that night. 

 Indeed, during the final act of the film, Martine enters a sort of makeshift pleasuredome in the castle where a dozen or so naked and half-naked motionless multicultural individuals, including her father and stepmother, are positioned like mannequins. To get the silly ‘transcendental meditation’ inspired orgy going, Martine merely touches each motionless individual to ‘activate’ them to life (notably, for her father, she grabs his flaccid kingly cock) in a scenario that seems like a pretentious pornographic take on a Les Rita Mitsouko music video. As the bodies begin to move, Martine soon loses her black leotards (the same pair she wore at the beginning of the film) and has her cherry popped by the hyper horny frog Journalist, who is surely going to give the family a great write-up in whatever yellow journalism rag he writes for. Unquestionably, Klaus Schulze’s exceedingly ethereal synthesizers reach otherworldly orgasmic extremes during the orgy scene that features a virtual ocean of bodies intertwined in indiscriminate carnal pageantry of the preposterously pompous pornographic sort. When all the loads have been busted and all the participant's genitals have been rubbed raw, everyone falls asleep on the floor except Martine and Glenda, with the former eventually leaving the room quite satisfied after having her pussy plundered by not just the Journalist, but three other less than masculine men.  Indeed, Martine has finally gotten over her juvenile carpet-munching and has learned to love cocks and cum.

 While I was rather repulsed by virtually all the character’s in the film, as well as the pseudo-philosophical tangents that director Lasse Braun programmed the actors to go in, there is no denying that, in terms of pornography, Body Love is like the Barry Lyndon (1975) of fuck flicks, albeit with a much cooler soundtrack. Despite the film’s absolutely insipid libertine sermonizing, Braun’s film ultimately has a good message due to its decidedly decadent depiction of a tyrannical teenage lesbian who is forced to convert to heterosexuality. If Body Love had been made nowadays, it would be about a heterosexual boy who is forced to lose his anal virginity by his two man-hating bull-dyke mothers. I have to admit that it was quite to my schadenfreude that Braun’s utopian dream of a libertine world full of transcendental meditation, pornographic art, and perennial free love has been replaced with an ugly dystopia full of spiritual retardation, soulless internet porn, and AIDS. In fact, Braun quit making porn films because he was disgusted with the soulless commercial approach of the American porn industry and the rise of schlocky videos. Not unlike a very different Italian aristocrat, fellow polymath Baron Julius Evola (who also had a keen interest in sex as demonstrated by his work 1958 Eros and the Mysteries of Love: The Metaphysics of Sex), Braun withdrew into a more esoteric world after quitting porn and began writing scientific works on sexology and anthropology, as well as erotic novels and books on the history of sex. Without a doubt, Body Love is the work of a man of immense, if not misguided, talent who could have probably done something more useful with his life than mainstream pornography in the Nordic world. 

-Ty E

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