Devil in the Flesh (1985(
Publication date: 07/02/2019
A Neglected Virtues Film Review
Marco Bellochio’s film of Devil in the lesh proved one of the most controversial films of the mid-1980s. Updating the Raymond Radiguet novel to contemporary Italy in the grip of the Red Brigade terrorists, the film was an immediate talking point for its combination of politics and sex. In its native Italy, the producer feared Bellochio’s explicit eroticism and so took the film negative away, hoping to re-cut the film to satisfy nervous financers. The matter was taken to court, where authorities sided with Bellochio who was allowed to release his film in the version he intended, with eroticism intact. This eroticism included an explicit fellatio scene involving actress Maruschka Detmers, effectively the first time a name actress participated in an actual sex scene on film. When the film came to the USA it caused a new wave of protest based on this explicitness and was duly rated “X”, synonymous with hardcore pornography even though Bellochio’s film was more of an art-house venture. Indeed, the US distributor, Orion, decided to distribute the film in art-house circuits with its X-rating, the first time an X-rated film had been so unnervingly distributed. It was from there that its cult reputation grew steadily, Bellochio acknowledging the collaborative support of noted psycho-analyst Massimo Fagioli for the sex scenes: indeed, Bellochio and Fagioli would work together on several other films – The Witches’ Sabbath, The Conviction and The Butterfly’s Dream.
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