Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mermaid, Werewolf, Mud Bath and Milk Bath from Jack Smith’s Normal Love

In many ways the high point of Smith’s masterpiece, at least for the central character of the film (which is structured as her fantastic remembrance or onanistic fantasy,) the struggle between the handsome Werewolf and the reclusive Mermaid represents the consummation of her secret desires.  Being dumped in this very black mud may seem simply an act of defilement, unless one also remembers its therapeutic qualities.  The Mud Bath is both the counterpoint and complement to the Milk Bath.  Both are said to be good for the skin and intended to counter the effects of aging.  The youthful Werewolf might also be taken as a means of rejuvenation, embodied as he is by this charming (and seemingly stoned) Long Island socialite, Eliot Cukor.  Whatever discomfort Mario may have endured in its filming, it was likely lovingly recalled in his dotage.

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