Flesh and the Devil

(Clarence Brown, Flesh and the Devil, 1926)




Cleverly ironic, with its femme fatale wickedly named Felicitas, (Greta Garbo at 21), Flesh and the Devil has an erotic force that never seeks to escape, and whose symbolic imagination only intensifies.




The two lovers are carried away by a circle dance, from which they never seem to be able to escape, and play as soon as they can, within a few millimetres of each other. They give the exalting sensation of needing to drink in their respective breaths, constantly. Clarence Brown succeeds in this miracle of really making believe that the two actors, Garbo and John Gilbert, had absolutely no qualms about being filmed when they kissed. The way they approach each other so naturally is fascinating. This is probably due to the affair that the two actors reportedly began during the shooting. Resolutely disturbing, Flesh and the Devil beats to the rhythm of the heroine's impulses; she only lives for the craving of the next second, not giving a damn about the rest. For another whim, she seems to perpetually sacrifice everything, like a temperamental bitch. Daringly, Brown films Garbo’s bathrobe slightly open, which is unpredictable because of an inability to bear any notion of ​​frustration. In her presence, the male characters never ask themselves who she really is, but rather, how to own her, how to spend time in her arms. A dangerous game.


Virginie Apiou



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