If someone "inceptioned" the wet dreams of Rainer Werner Fassbender and Jean Cocteau, and asked a young Todd Haynes to make a movie out of them, the result would be Pink Narcissus. This avant garde gay landmark is often more conservative and forced than it wants to be, its lyrical qualities only subverted under the fact that despite its subject matter, it's r(b)arely erotic.
Director Bidgood famously removed his name from the film after he felt that the editors had butchered his work, when the truth is that it's the editing that gives the film a dreamlike quality. See for example how the editor juxtaposes "random" body parts, in this case the belly button and an eye, so that we're transported to Un Chien Andalou and Psycho in a second. The film may not really tap into the real sexual desires of a gay man, but it explores how films themselves can evoke the sensual world.
This feeling continues when on the Times Square fantasy, the director relies to neon (as well as inventive sight gags) to remind us of the overwhelming experience that can be NYC, something audiences had seen years before in the playful Singing in the Rain.
The references to the classic musical continue in further scenes, as Pink Narcissus seems to explore the same color palettes and borrows from the movie's musical structure.
"Singing and dancing in the rain..."
Notice the similarity between the painted skies, which not only relish in their obvious staginess but also never fail to inspire the romantic in us.
"You were meant for me..."
All of these cinematic winks bring us to my favorite shot:
Remember that scene in An American in Paris where Gene performs the famous ballet? I have never truly loved that movie, but I'm endlessly fascinated by how Gene recreated the most famous moments in French art.
- This post is part of Nat's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.