Issue 16 Preview: Peripheral Edition

Thirty-five words from Issue 16, “Double Bind,” in order of frequency:

119 no

86 cunningham

80 [princess] donna

61 balibar

46 munro

45 haneke

39 space

38 police

28 porn

28 oneida

27 tour

23 indian

20 google

19 insurrection

18 class

17 factory

17 european

17 desire

16 power

14 technique

14 surveillance

12 sadomodernism

11 disgrace

8 sabotage

5 unpleasant

5 unknown

4 uh

4 pandas

4 naive

4 irregardless

3 torture

3 sandwich

3 counterespionage

2 vaginas

2 vacations


The director Liliana Cavani has outlived Pasolini, but she hasn’t lived down The Night Porter (1974), which tells the story of a chance reunion between a concentration-camp prisoner and her Nazi torturer at a hotel in Vienna. As sadist and victim revive their affair, Cavani uses sustained close-ups, matches on action, and sound bridges to leap from the present to sex tableaux staged at the camp, in blue-lit scenes that exude the clammy kink of an Otto Dix portrait. The early ’70s saw a small boom in American and Italian sexploitation films with sadomasochistic themes set in concentration camps. Most showed male officers torturing female prisoners, but the most famous, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, turned the tables, casting as the camp commandant a buxom nymphomaniac, who, between bounces on her magenta silk sheets, tests the effects of forced dildo penetration and whipping to death on women and men. Ilsa opens with a red title card with the words, “The film you are about to see is based upon documented fact. . . . We dedicate this film with the hope that these heinous crimes will never occur again.”

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