Isabella Rossellini’s “Porno” Then and Now

February 11, 2008

Isabella Rossellini will always be linked with David Lynch because of Blue Velvet but her new surrealist project ought to cement that connection. Contra the disavowals of ibiteyoureyes, Velvet is Lynch’s not-quite-masterpiece. Mixing sheer terror, creepiness, and humour, Lynch refashioned American children’s adventure stories into an exploration of the psyche, sexual fetish, and pure evil. Indeed, the way Lynch reenvisions the Hardy Boys recalls Hemingway’s branding of W.H. Hudson’s The Purple Land as a “sinister book” in The Sun Also Rises; the “innocent” adventure is rare at best, and one can never predict how it will be interpreted. Although there are many harrowing sequences in the movie, one of its most chilling and daring segments features a naked but wounded Isabella Rossellini waiting on Kyle Machlachlan’s porch. Like much of the movie, the scene exists on the boundaries between action and voyeurism, and attraction and repulsion. The scene is beautifully incomprehensible to all involved, largely as a result of Rossellini’s powerful performance. Her body is hardly the only thing laid bare for all to see.

Recently, Rossellini decided to channel Lynch’s Rabbits by creating a series of short movies, Green Porno, that feature her dressed in insect costumes investigating that eternal question, “how do insects do it?

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The shorts played at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival and will soon come to TV’s sundance channel. Here’s a link to an interview with Rossellini.

Without having seen the shorts, it’s safe to say that the most interesting thing about their production (other than the fact that Isabella Rossellini decided to reenact insect sex!) is the fact that they were intended for the so-called “third screen”: pcs, mobile phones, ipod touches, etc. I wonder if this is the first time a serious “art film” has ever been designed for these platforms. If it succeeds, will there be any implications for the broader art world, and the ever expanding genre of video art? What about pieces like Cory Arcangel’s hacked nintendo games? Could these projects be readily transported to mobile devices? There’s also an interesting linguistic aspect to Green Porno: the name itself was chosen for the medium. Here’s how Rossellini explained it:

“What do people mostly go online for, but to look at porn?” explains Canadian filmmaker Jody Shapiro, Rossellini’s co-director. “So we put ‘Porno’ in, and when people Google it, maybe we’ll get lucky and Green Porno will come up. We might as well take advantage of the delivery system.”

Devious.

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2 Responses to “Isabella Rossellini’s “Porno” Then and Now”


  1. […] Velvet: I said most of what I wanted to say here in my post on Isabella Rosselini’s “Green Porno.” I’ll only add a few words […]


  2. […] 10, 2010 Blue Velvet is considered by many to be David Lynch’s masterpiece. Here’s what we wrote: Mixing sheer terror, creepiness, and humour, Lynch refashioned American […]


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