My rating: 9
IMDB rating: 7.2
IMDB link: Venus in Fur
If anyone ever tries to tell you that Roman Polanski is not a genius, you should leave the conversation immediately- out of principle!
With this film Polanski once again proves that he is the master of space. Earlier this year, I wrote about his film Carnage which is also an adaptation of a play, as Venus in Fur is. And in both these films, Polanski makes use of a single space. In Carnage he crams four people into an apartment and watch as the sparks fly, but with this film he plays the only two actors on a stage (both a physical and psychological stage) and watch as they blur the lines between fiction and reality as they perform.
For whom do they perform you may ask? Well, that is exactly what makes it so interesting. At first it seems that Vanda is acting for Thomas, later as Thomas becomes infatuated with her it seems as if he is performing for her, but all the while they are performing for us, the viewers.
But this is not merely just the act of assuming a role and being placed opposite another character. Under the cover of Victorian propriety, the play that Thomas has written (adapted) comments on gender roles, although he tries to deny it.
Subtly his own sexuality is questioned, throughout, as he subjects himself to Vanda- becoming her slave. Although Thomas constantly thinks he has the upper hand, Vanda proves him wrong by rewriting his play, by having him question his sexuality and by ultimately transforming him into a woman and by offering him at the phallic.
Vanda also undergoes a transformation. She transcends from actor to script writer to woman to ‘madame’ to ‘mistress’ to ‘goddess’. In the end she assumes an almost daemonic-like state, emphasising the fact that we are actually dealing with different parts of Thomas’ psyche or his consciousness. Vanda, and her transcendent identifications or personalities, are nothing more than Thomas’ anima.
Vanda, who in the end appear to him, almost dream-like or as in a vision, to me, emphasise the fact that most of this is probably only happening inside of Thomas’ head. She is a manifestation of his own collective unconscious. And as he comes to terms with his own sexuality, he is transformed into a woman and Vanda gives him the collar- showing his subjection to the feminine, to his anima.
An amazing film, that is easy to enjoy without the deeper nuances. The actors are brilliant and the director, legendary.
Want to read more on Venus in Fur? Try these…