The Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
|"OK girls", the 16th century teacher intones, "we know that 'Kama' means 'Love', and 'Sutra' means ... anyone?... anyone? Bueller?"|
|And that gives you a hint how oddly this
movie was constructed. That teacher's speech would make
perfect sense if they were English girls studying the
Kama Sutra in a foreign language, but the filmmakers
forgot that the characters are only speaking English so
that we can understand it. But we know the convention -
that they are really speaking in their native language.
But of course, the whole scene makes no sense if they
are speaking their native language
"OK, girls, we know that 'love' means 'love' - what does 'lessons' mean? Anyone? Anyone?"
That's the level of craftsmanship - they plumb forgot that the characters weren't really speaking English when they were speaking English.
|(For you anal-retentives: I'm aware that I
oversimplified that point. The Kama Sutra was written a
millennium before the film takes place, and I guess they
might not have automatically known the meaning of the
words, any more than we know the meaning of Chaucer's
words. But the practice of translating the book while
leaving the title untranslated has never been that
common. Why do we even call it the Kama Sutra instead of
Love Lessons? Most foreign titles are known by their
English translations - The Libation Bearers, Remembrance
of Things Past, Divorce: Italian Style, The Seventh Seal,
etc. Rather than discuss the nuances of this translation
practice, I skipped directly to the dumb-ass jokes.)
Y'know, I think this is the only movie I've ever seen where the nudity was necessary and integral to the project, but the plot was gratuitous. I mean it was really dumb to begin with, and it was left unresolved.
Excuse me, Miss Winslet, but would you do a movie with a plot? "Yes, I guess I would, if I really believed it was necessary to the nudity."
Which reminds me of Tom Waits' famous quote, that reality is only a crutch for people who are too weak to face drugs.
Back to our feature presentation. The plot:
It seems when the great Kamal died in the 16th century, his kingdom went to either Kamal Lights or Kamal Filters, and neither of them had the Turkish tobaccos or full-bodied flavor to rule the kingdom. Basically, all Kamal Lights wanted to do was eat good food, get laid and get high. Pretty much what any of us would do with absolute power.
But this made his people mad, because he ignored them and participated in debauchery, and didn't let them play. And it really kinda ticked his wife off, too, so she asked her dad to kick hubby's butt. Her dad was some kind of more powerful Cigarette than a Kamal Light, maybe a Viceroy or a Lucky Strike, and he invaded the kingdom.
Meanwhile in a parallel plot, two girls grew up like sisters, but one was a serving girl and the other was destined to be a queen. The royal one ended up married to Kamal Lights, but the serving girl ended up sleeping with him first, on the night before her friend's wedding to him. Because of this, she was shamed and had to run away to study the ways of love. Same thing happened to me at that age. Some time later the serving girl comes back, fully versed in love's mysteries, as the head courtesan for Kamal Lights. Wow, what are the chances? The royal chick can't seem to please her husband at all, so the fur really flies for a while. Just when the two girls start to get along, the queen's dad finally gets around to that invasion, and the courtesan walks off into the sunset while the invading army rides in and the credits roll.
There is a feminist subtext about a woman not wanting to go from being her father's property to her husband's property, with never a moment of control over her own life. This is, of course, the sexual politics of the 20th century being force-fed back to 16th century feudal India. Good stuff, eh?
Well, that's what it is supposed to be about but, frankly, the script needed a major overhaul. The concept was OK, but the actual script was amateurish.
If you read between the lines, here's what the move was really about:
There are two great looking Indian women. One of them gets completely naked, and we even get a peek at her most intimate areas. The other one shows some breast action and a headless bush. The photography is pretty, the costumes colorful, and the settings exotic and lavish. It ain't "Finnegan's Wake", me boyos. There is no depth. There is no truth.
But there is beauty. Just look at the pretty pictures and enjoy 'em.
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