The Hands of Bresson

Sundry observations on the art of cinema and world film culture

Turkish Delight

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A notice in today’s Variety about Dutch actor Rutger Hauer’s upcoming collaboration with director Cyrus Frisch (lately a cell-phone auteur) on Dazzle, the first film he’s made in Holland in almost three decades, got me thinking about the beefy blond hunk’s pre-Hollywood career. Perhaps best known to American audiences for his turn as a rebellious replicant in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), Hauer has maintained a vigorous work schedule over the years, alternating between TV, independent film, straight-to-video junk, and high-profile projects like Sin City and Batman Begins. He just wrapped Michael Almereyda’s Tonight at Noon, based on a story by Jonathan Lethem, starring opposite Ethan Hawke and Connie Nielsen, and already has at least four more film projects lined up for 2009, including the Frisch picture, “an experimental romance.”

Back in his native Holland, Hauer made a big splash in another experimental romance, Paul Verhoeven’s Turkish Delight (1973), the freewheeling, sexually raucous tale of an artist who finds his erotic soulmate in a young woman (Monique Van De Ven) with perverse appetites and a slightly mad sense of social propriety. Still my favorite Verhoeven film (sorry, Showgirls), Turkish Delight crossed the water into the households of anyone on the West Coast who subscribed to the Z Channel, the Euro-arthouse distributor of choice in the pre-VHS era. Its mad energy and lusty, anarchic spirit emanate mostly from the shaggy-haired, bell-bottom-wearing Hauer, whose outlandish sculptor Eric Vonk is part libertine, part narcissist, and a head-to-foot embodiment of charismatic dudeness. This was the ’70s, though, so all the high-spirited, uninhibited sensualism—in one scene I’ve always loved, Eric and the childlike Olga joyously gulp red wine from stemmed glasses in a torrential rainstorm—eventually yields to a grim state of affairs that, well, makes its own kind of sense. (See the movie.)

Although the naughty bits from Turkish Delight are to be found elsewhere online (and there are plenty), here’s a great meta-clip of some memorable scenes. It’s in Dutch, but no translation is necessary.

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Written by eyemaster

January 31, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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