Throwback Texts: Sex, Lies and Videotape (and my vidding response to it).

A song came on in the car today that really got me into the mood for writing about the protagonists in my second novel, Sweeter than Cider, Jonathan and Caroline. It was Bryan Ferry’s ‘Slave to Love’. This is a song I’ve long loved, and a few years ago I made a fanvid for the film Sex, Lies and Videotape using it as a soundtrack.

For those who haven’t seen the film, released in 1989, it was a Palme d’Or Winner at the Sundance Film Festival and was directed by Steven Soderbergh. It tells the story of the developing relationship between Ann, a frustrated housewife whose husband John is sleeping with her own sister, and Graham, a university friend of John’s who has a rather strange fetish. When Graham arrives to stay with Ann and John, Ann’s own sexuality starts to reawaken, and Graham, by opening himself and his urges up to Ann, begins to build a relationship with a woman that isn’t necessarily dependent on watching them through his camera lens. The love story that unfolds is sensual, unconventional and challenges the very notions of what it means to get close to someone. James Spader is incredible as Graham, and Andie MacDowell takes on the role of Ann masterfully, and their relationship is beautifully played. And if you want to watch the whole thing to see what I’m wittering on about, some kind soul has uploaded an HD version to Youtube, here:

Of course, what compelled me to make a fanvid for the film was the interplay between Spader and MacDowell. Theirs is an affair that plays with the emotions; beautifully detailed onscreen through the acting and also Soderbergh’s masterful use of the camera. Long, lingering shots and beautiful cinematography where the camera is used caressingly, in shots that linger on the principals’ faces, catch every nuance of expression and emotion. In actual fact, it was very easy to make a music video because of that – I didn’t have to slow down any but one of the clips, and the wonderfully lyrical lovemaking scenes between Spader and MacDowell play out themselves to the soundtrack with very little coaxing from me!

I know I’m rambling on a bit on this one, but I wanted to, in a sense, justify the making of this video – there are parts of it that are long; shots that linger a little after the lyric or beat, and this is because I didn’t want to start messing with what is a beautifully shot film by putting in cuts that might ruin the flow. So I’m not sure if it’s cut to lyrics or beat this time, or emotion! The song is stunning – Brian Ferry is raw, and the piano riff was what got me wanting to use it in a songvid. I realise as well that this is a very conventional love song that provides the backing track to an unconventional affair – I know I’ve shamelessly romanticised the core relationship, but once I started, I just couldn’t stop! I suppose that’s why I wanted to revisit this film, and this fanvid today, since the song made itself known to me once more. I’m driven to creativity by the promise of romance, and this is an unusual, but powerful, relationship.

And how does this relate to my current writing project? Well, the song conjured up another scene in my mind, involving the two people who will, eventually (hopefully) work out their issues and live happily ever after. And that’s the one I’ll be working on just as soon as I’ve finished this post, and shared the link to the fanvid I made, because the song, and the footage, are meant to be together, just like Jonathan and Caroline :). Now all I’ve got to do is write it!

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