Normal Love by Jack Smith

  • 40th Anniversary Screening
  • Saturday, July 19, 9 pm
  • @ 401 Richmond St. West Courtyard

Part of Summer 2003

“O Flic was actually completed to even my unbelief. I was a raving madman during last days of shooting. It shows on film which is totally insane – the actors all incandescently amok, no control over themselves – their souls glowing thru their skin. And their eyes burning with the desire to give & the realization of our common helplessness. Tragic twisted faces – Labyrinths for a tormented Minotaur.” (Jack Smith, “Notes on Normal Love” )

In the wake of the notoriety of his first film, Flaming Creatures, which provoked riots in Belgium, seizure in New York and a screening by Strom Thurmond in the US Senate Office building, Jack Smith retreated into the countryside to film a more “accessible” follow-up. However, retreat did not prevent his extravagant fantasies from fully flourishing on a much larger scale. This time his array of creatures frolic in rich Kodachrome colours, clashing and blending with the natural settings: a swamp, a picnic-perfect meadow and the glorious Moon Pool. The creatures themselves trebled in number with the aide of additional crazed collaborators, notably a prenubile Tiny Tim, the passionate Mario Montez, a stunning Dianne Baccus, an incognito Andy Warhol and the design talents of Claes Oldenberg, whose massive cake is the set-piece for the final reverie/massacre.

Even with the spirit of B-movie Queen Maria Montez watching over the proceedings, paradise fell, Atlantis sunk and Jack Smith was never able to edit the film together into a whole. By the time of his death thirty years later, the film was still a series of sequences distinguished by their dominant colours &lrquo;” the yellow sequence, the green sequence, etc. The version shown tonight is a recent restoration by Jerry Tartaglia, following the soundtrack notes Smith supplied to Tony Conrad. Join us in the shadow garden of the 401 Richmond Street West courtyard and watch as paradise is returned to the creatures once displaced by Adam & Eve.