How would you react on watching a blood smudged girl running for a safe hideout after being raped several times? Do you see her circumstantial nudity or is it her terrible ordeal that makes your heart heavy? Now replicate that situation in a film. You may go one step ahead and say, “I condemn forced sex”, but that does not answer my question. You may condemn the act but make lot of noise about the ‘gross’ depiction of the act in a movie. But my dear critic, why should an honest artist (film director, in this case) prevent oneself from portraying savage acts the way they actually happen.
Meir Zarchi film ‘I spit on your grave’ (1978) had to face rough weather due to ‘overt sexuality’. After an uninterrupted watching, I can assure my readers that the director has deliberately chosen to expose the American way in late 1970s – few unemployed sex maniacs feasting on a girl as vultures do on carcass.
It was a long 18-minute scene where the camera zooms in on the pervert masochism of those men who wanted “total submission” from the girl. The men slapped and brutally thrashed the young girl at every hint of resistance. Violent physical abuse along with deafening groans of the girl can shake many a stone-hearted.
If you have qualms about the explicit rape scenes, think about the purpose, find out the connotation. Don’t just see what is being shown; try to visualize the overtone of the scene. Instead of making a fuss about prolonged nudity; be a vigilant watcher and respect the thoughts behind every single scene. Here, Zarchi dealt with small town guys who didn’t know how to utilize their piled up energy and needed an outlet for their repressed sexual desire. It is a long vicious chain with one leading to the other. The barbarism and chauvinistic beating throughout the film indicated an element of decadence in social fabric.
Unemployment in the US was forcing youth to go berserk and befriending anything that is inhuman and immoral. The movie dealt on the disease in the US society. The frequent shooting incidents in the US that we hear are modern day manifestations of the muddle that stains pluralistic and tolerant culture of the country.
You must give it to Camille Keaton, the victim, who took the hunter’s whip and dared those who had hounded her. A girl taking on 4 men one after the other is a strong statement the film makes. She was down but not out, wounded but not won over. Unlike many Hollywood horror movies, where priests and Holy Cross come as saviors against demons, the victim in the movie slays real-life demons – and all with the help of will power. No mediator, no blood pounding sermons and no Good-Evil skirmish. She has taught every guy a lesson – not every bikini woman lying in a canoe is bait.
Remove the grey areas in thought process. Remind yourself every time that art and life are Siamese twins. If one is hurt, the wounds are bound to develop as scars on the other. If life is jubilant in patches, the art has to be cheerful at times. While “I Spit on your Grave” can be deservingly interpreted as explicit and truthful, antagonists think of it as one unabashedly made movie.