Ideas of sex: discourses on sexuality in Liliana Cavani's 'The Night Porter' and Cesare Canevari's 'The Gestapo’s Last Orgy'
Film Studies, University College Cork
Both The Night Porter (Cavani) and The Gestapo’s Last Orgy (Canevari) are often referred to as exploitation. Exploitation cinema’s focus on empty excess is in line with the exaggeration/superficiality of “Camp”. Despite Susan Sontag’s separation of “Camp” elements and homosexual-Camp elements, subsequent commentators have argued that Camp is an exclusively gay critique of the artificial nature of the “performance” of hetero-normative gender roles. My article looks at the ways in which lesbian filmmaker Liliana Cavani discusses queer sexuality through a Camp play on gender roles, and how this same discourse is “developed” in Canevari’s virtual remake. German/Italian fascist ideology’s preoccupation with the perfected male body and Hitler’s original acceptance of homosexuality contributed to the presence of a lingering (masculine) homoeroticism in Nazi iconography. Holocaust history of Nazi domination enhanced this masculine image. Accordingly, the two filmmakers use a binary of male (masculine) Nazi dominator and female submissive prisoner, which is possessing of a heterosexual quality made fragile by the history of fascist sexual ambiguity. Essentially, my paper argues that the films’ disruption of the traditional images of Nazi aggressor/innocent victim through the protagonists’ depicted collaboration corresponds with the filmmakers’ blurring of masculine/feminine roles in their individual statements about queer sexuality.
Nazism , Holocaust
Impey, N. (2011) 'Ideas of sex: discourses on sexuality in Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter and Cesare Canevari’s The Gestapo’s Last Orgy', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 1 (Summer 2011). doi: 10.33178/alpha.1.06
© 2011, The Author(s)