I am always modifying my course syllabus for this class. One of the films I had considered adding this semester (this post was originally written in Spring 2013) is Jerzy Skolimowski’s 1970 film, Deep End. Many films that had nudity and adult subject matter, but were not “hard-core” (meaning showing erections or penetration) were given “X” ratings in the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s. This was the case with the beautiful and touching film, Deep End, which chronicles a teenage man’s love for/obsession with a slightly older woman. The film, in fact, comments frankly on various aspects of sexuality and gender in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. Ultimately, I have to pick and choose (I can’t do everything). I’m just letting you know about the film because I think it’s amazing. Not only do I think the film is great work of cinema, I believe its discussion of gender and sex is critical and nuanced (and never, I think, reactive). In a word, it’s a very smart film and it gets a lot right. The comparison with Hitchcock’s Vertigo (in the article linked below) is maybe more than a bit much, albeit still somewhat apt. It is a film about the construction of heterosexuality, patriarchal power, commodification, social relations to sexuality, and adolescence—of being a minor—at the end of the 1960’s. I totally love this film. (Note: It is only available on a region-free Blu-ray disc from the UK.)
Here’s a short, critical, sketch on Deep End from Senses of Cinema: “Optimism Unfulfilled: Jerzy Skolimoswski’s Deep End and the ‘Swinging Sixities'” and below is the original trailer.