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Monday, September 16, 2013

This post contains SPOILERS for Passion

ITALKYOUBORED posted an essay about Brian De Palma's Passion last month that looks at the film as "a corporate world retelling of the Christ story." The essay carries some fascinating ideas about the film's subtext-- here are a couple of passages:

"[The Black] Dahlia was a portrait of Hollywood written in venom; Passion is a portrait of the corporate state drawn in arsenic. I do not think the title is an idle one – it is most definitely a play on the eternal passion, The Passion, as in The Passion of the Christ, a ridiculing of the modern ideal of corporation as creed, corporate life as the new religion, the corporation as a new christianity. The company which Christine and Isabelle work for is Koch Image International, and the coincidence of the name with a villainous fraternity is not, I think, idle either. The film is by an older man, yet it is a provocation on the order of Harmony Korine, undetected by viewers and critics: a corporate world re-telling of the Christ story. Christine’s name is a carryover from the original, but with a specific meaning: Christine."

The essay's author views Christine as an eternal martyr, citing the monologue in which she tells Isabelle about the twin sister who saved Christine's life. "When she gives this speech," reads the essay, "she of course wears a cross, but one appropriate to a corporate god: we’re unsure if it is has any significance other than jewelry, and most importantly, it has a very sharp end, so sharp you could stab someone with it."

In addition, "Christine has a disciple, but this disciple is a Judas, and gives her what is known as a Judas kiss." The author adds that Christine somehow "rises from the dead after a few days."

The author also delves into the costumes:

"Passion is a re-telling of the Christ story, but as a pagan tale. Christine starts out in the same mysterious gray as the title character of Femme Fatale before she takes on her new identity; then it becomes clear she is a sun god, and she is the only one to wear white outfits, then every color of the prism. She is a god of a materialist age as well, so she always wears jewelry, often ostentatious diamond pieces, and lives in a house with roman pornography and a Louis XV sofa.

"There is only one color she does not wear, and this appears in the shoes she wears in her resurrection. The death and return to life of the pagan god represented the cycle of the harvest, so of course the one missing color is the obvious one in a revived pagan god, a return to spring: green. She is a pagan god, but also a god of an uber consumer age, so the color of the resurrection shows up on pricey heels that Christine once loved."

The essay continues by looking closely at the costumes worn by Isabelle and Dani, with side-by-side comparisons with Love Crime appearing throughout. It also looks at the split-screen sequence, as well as the final dream sequence:

"The final sequence is a resolution of the idea of movies as revenge fantasy, images without consequence. Isabelle finds herself under someone’s will again, her escape from Christine only resulting in her confinement under Dani. The final dream sequence embodies all that is within her, a fear that she will be exposed for the murder, but also the simpler fear that she, this cryptic character, will be exposed, the way the sex tape exposed her. Isabelle does not want to be punished for the murder, and yet she wants to be punished. She wanted Christine dead, but she also wants her alive again. In this dream, both things happen, with Christine’s twin alive, and Christine’s twin magically appearing behind Isabelle in order to choke her to death. We in the audience wished Christine would die, without Isabelle being guilty, and in another movie we would have been granted this wish entirely: a villain like Christine would be killed, and after the hero was wrongly accused, the true killer would turn out to be someone else. We now wish Isabelle to escape her confinement from Dani, and yet we don’t want her to be a murderer. The audience is given its wish and it is taken away at the very same time, a reflection of this idea of images without consequences, dreams without any conenction to reality. We wish to dive into a mad fantasy of revenge, and then return to the sane world; we are here given our fantasy, but we are forbidden an escape. Isabelle chokes Dani to death, in a sequence nearly as graphic as Torn Curtain, with Isabelle’s face twisted into something of animal-like fury, yet it turns out to be but a dream, perhaps everything was a dream, but no: Dani is dead, strangled by Isabelle in her sleep."

Posted by Geoff at 1:38 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 6:54 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink | Share This Post

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 2:47 AM CDT

Name: "harry georgatos"

With all these hidden subliminal meanings PASSION requires numerous viewings. From the color psychology to the costumes, production design, jewellery and the way the film is edited. After reading this essay into the film I'll be watching it again.

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 2:50 AM CDT

Name: "Trevor V"

Now I'm a huge fan of Passion, but I have to say this is the maddest analysis I have heard. A very entertaining article but completely bonkers. Christine as a Christ type figure & Isabelle as a disciple after all the corporate backstabbing that goes on between them both - I just don't see it Smile

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 11:43 AM CDT

Name: "Chris C"

I agree. I can definitely see the crucifix Christine wears as a phallic symbol, since she always wants to be dominant. Also, a character like Christine probably also wears the crucifix because she likes the way it looks. "It looks good...that's all that matters."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 9:40 AM CDT

Name: "italkyoubored"
Home Page: http://italkyoubored.wordpress.com

Thank you so kindly for the mention and the link. Like every other De Palma fan out there I consider your site essential. Again: gracias.

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