October 6, 2006 at 4:01 pm | Posted in art, spectacle | 6 Comments

This afternoon I went to see Derek Jarman’s Wittgenstein, after a long effort (for some reason it isn’t available on Netflix, so I had to come all the way to Paris to see it). It’s arguably the most accomplished of the Jarman films I’ve seen, and certainly the most accessible (you may think it sounds dry, but that’s because you don’t know about the midget Martians. Come on, how bad can a movie be with midget Martians?).

It was also wonderfully thought-provoking, to the degree that a number of times I realized I wasn’t paying attention to the scene in front of me, because I was still thinking about a bit of dialogue from three scenes earlier.

There did seem to be, however, one thing missing. Cock.

Although Jarman has never been what anyone would call a mainstream director, he nevertheless has acquired many ardent fans for his particular brand of extremely experimental, avant-garde historical film making. And how exactly does one find fans for something so esoteric? By filling your films with plenty of cute naked boys making out with each other. Pornography masquerading as art: it’s a recipe for guaranteed success!

To be fair, masquerade is the wrong word. Jarman’s films are indeed art — the better ones are beautiful, ground-breaking, rich with challenging imagery… But loads of frolicking boys certainly make all that medicine go down more easily than it otherwise might.

And yet, the queer content of Wittgenstein was sadly minimal: I counted two kisses and one hand holding. Unsatisfactory!

Oh well. Poor Mr. Jarman is dead now, so I can’t really take him to task. And it was a brilliant movie (and funny! Although I was the only one in the theater laughing. On the other hand, there were only two other people in the theater.). But I do wish Jarman had lived long enough to make a bio-film about Foucault. It’s safe to say that would have been very very smart, and very very dirty.

Anyway, if by some remote chance this odd review has actually given anyone a desire to see this movie (remember: midget Martians!), it seems to be playing every Friday around noon at Reflet Médicis in the 5eme.



  1. I want to troll around Paris on Friday afternoons too! Wah!

  2. I won’t deny, it is nice! Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have my days to myself.

    The trade-off, of course, is a total lack of financial security. 😉

  3. True enough :-)…

    Mortgage, kids…. It’s tough being a growed up. I think I could deal if I didn’t have to commute. But then I would never get into Paris. arrggh.

  4. True is that, Jen — same here. Sometimes I dread the commute, but then again I know it gets me into the city and as a result I spend some evenings here as well, doing the things I miss doing in the “village atmosphere” of Paris.

    I’m still trying to live like a grown-up, and I’m having a hard time! Got a lot to learn…

  5. dude.. was wittgenstein even gay ? this is important to me, because I just read a bunch of ‘philosophical investigations’ recently and need to know if my frequent use of the phrase ‘worship his ass’ is imbued with an unnecessary double entendre.

  6. Wittgenstein was what we in the field like to call “gayish”. He was once engaged to a woman, had numerous “romantic attachments” (wikipedia’s term) to young men, and no one’s too sure beyond that.

    That said, I’m not sure his literal ass was anything worth worshipping — the asses of Cambridge professors so rarely are. I mean, we’re not talking gym queens, here.

    Interestingly, though Jarman’s biopic makes much of W.’s romantic leanings, it fails to mention that he was Jewish — in fact, it misleadingly suggests that he came from an aristocratic family. Curious.

    Also, congratulations on being the first person to comment directly on the content of this post, rather than on my employment status!

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