About Normal Love
Monstrous Beauty: Mythology, Queer Representation, and Normal Love
Jack Smith’s Normal Love bears evidence of the influence that the sexual revolution and homosexual countercultures had on underground cinema. Rather than trying to move beyond the coded mainstream representations of queerness as monstrous, Smith instead takes the radical step of rendering this connection indisputable, leaning into the power attributed to these figures mythologically and portraying them as beautiful and alluring. Smith’s approach influenced his contemporaries, such as Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol, and Derek Jarman, and inspired later filmmakers and artists such as John Waters, Guy Maddin, and The Boulet Brothers of Dragula fame.
Produced shortly after his scandalous magnum opus Flaming Creatures (1963), Jack Smith’s Normal Love presents a more approachable treatise on queerness, morality, and the repressiveness of societal conventions. The film is composed of several vignettes featuring glamorously dressed monsters, with interior scenes filmed around a shrine honoring B movie actress Maria Montez that Smith built in his New York apartment. Smith’s interest in camp is further illustrated through Normal Love’s aesthetics, which mirror those of the 1944 Montez vehicle White Savage. [120 min; experimental; English]
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