Jun 3, 2018

Salomé (Téo Hernandez, 1976)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

If the films could touch their audience, the long, slender fingers of Téo Hernandez's Salomé would probably feel like tulle, satin or silk covered with strass, or maybe like tepid sea water mixed with fine sand...

For the viewer enamored with arthouse, experimental, experiential and extremely lyrical cinema, it takes less than five minutes to get wholly immersed in this ethereal, boldly unconventional phantasmagoria which eschews historical/biblical narrative in favor of the sensual visuals and chic baroque atmosphere. Although it does feature the Dance of the Seven Veils, it refuses to tell the (familiar) story and instead opts for satiating our appetite for aesthetic pleasure. 'Ars gratia artis' it may be, yet it hardly ever fails to impress, holding you in its gentle embrace.

Its pure, unadulterated magic relies on soft light, warm colors, strong chiaroscuro, deliberate pacing and slow-motion 'action' which turns the archetypal characters into partakers of a strange ritual of unfathomable purpose. As Eros and Thanatos dance like they are making love, the ripe darkness that surrounds them engulfs their hypnotized worshippers and drives them into sublime ecstasy. However, it is not only them who are under hypnosis, but us as well, with our gazes transfixed to the screen and ourselves lost in contemplative reveries.

Told or rather shown via abstractly evocative and thematically related vignettes (which blur the boundary between high camp and high art), Salomé seduces us with its dreamy, lavish, mystifying beauty reflected in the ostensibly incongruous symbiosis of intoxicating, 'Kenneth Anger by way of Werner Schroeter' visuals and glamorous soundtrack fuelled by assorted vintage ballads and entwined voices of nature, with enticing solos by crushing waves...