RED opened yesterday at the Art Gallery of South Australia, as part of 2017 Adelaide Festival, until April 30th; in June it’s set to open in New York. Here are the first reviews, one interview with director Del Kathryn Barton and two new images. Enjoy!
Cate Blanchett is ‘fierce, sexy and scary’ as redback spider in Del Kathryn Barton’s ‘genre-busting’ RED
RED, a surreal, savage tale of female power, is the creation of Archibald Prize winner and now filmmaker Del Kathryn Barton.
Set against a backdrop of intense, pulsating music, the short film stars Cate Blanchett, who re-enacts the spider’s deadly mating ritual, alongside actor Alex Russell and Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap.
Ms Barton said she wanted the film to be “an intensely visceral experience with a lot of intense emotionality that on one level has that core narrative, but can move and shake and be open to interpretation.”
Cate Blanchett’s ‘immense power on set’
Three years in the making, the 15-minute film intercuts human protagonists with close-up footage of the redback mating and then savaging its prey.
The work started as a small studio-based project, but evolved into something much bigger after a funding boost which helped secure a Hollywood star.
“I put my wish list together, I thought who would be the ultimate actor for the role of mother and it was you know of course a no-brainer — Cate Blanchett has immense power in so many ways,” Ms Barton says.
“With someone like Cate Blanchett I was really actually determined to under-direct her.
“You give her the hooks and honestly what she gave to the performances that day, I could have never have asked that of her, she was incredibly generous in that way.”
via ABC Australia
Sex, death and del kathryn barton
A two-time Archibald prizewinner, del kathryn barton continues her fascination with the complex psychology of relationships, sex and fertility in her work RED (now at the Art Gallery of South Australia). This transition into film is as energetic, tumultuous, detailed and beautifully unsettling as her figurative paintings. Perhaps more so.
RED was three years in the making and it’s hard not to marvel at the coincidence of its premiere this week, when female power and outrage has reverberated across the world. RED is a slick and strident feminist work. Although it was not made with deliberate political intent, it has the potential to resonate loud and unapologetic, like a lightening rod for our times.
RED celebrates female creative energy, reaching back to the primordial, evolutionary origins of procreation. Starting out as a modest short piece, it was developed with additional support from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
barton draws on the natural sciences to advance her exploration of the complex psychology of relationships. With RED, she examines mating rituals and the imperative to reproduce as evidenced in redback spiders.
RED is produced and crewed by some of the leaders in Australian film and theatre. Cate Blanchett stars as the protagonist, The Mother.
Choosing to structure the sequence as a set of narrative beats, rather than a traditional script, barton overlays the visuals with a tense and thumping soundtrack. These deep beats pulse through the sequence of jump cuts from intensive macro shots of spiders to the Mother and other human characterisations.
The Mother is at first still and brooding, crouched on a board table floating in a heaving sea, her features stark but for a totemic gash of red lipstick. She wears a classic tuxedo suit, contained and androgynous. And that’s when you notice the scissors.
Those bass beats drum out her fever as she slashes, stabs and sheers through the suit, tearing the fabric from her legs, crotch and torso to reveal a very taut female form beneath, encased in nets. She keeps her patent red shoes on.
Here, as in all her roles, Blanchett totally disappears into her character of the untamed Mother in heat; contorted, sweating and furious with the fundamental compulsion to mate. Pulsing with longing and demand, she signals to her mate with a commanding howl that would have blown Whitman’s “barbaric yawp” out of the water. She is unleashed.
Interspersed between shots of the actors are close ups of redback spiders in the act. The species is known for sexual cannibalism. In most cases, the female begins to eat her mate during or just after copulation. At some point in their evolution, this strategy was found to improve the chances of fertilisation and ensure the survival of the mother and offspring.
The climax is the pinnacle of the male’s existence. If he is selected by the female, he has one shot and that’s it. He has fulfilled his end of the deal and has no future role in parenting. Instead, he volunteers himself as a resource to be consumed by the female for the benefit of the next generation.
Blanchett’s recent work Manifesto (2015-2017) is an interesting contrast to RED: one intellectual and scholarly in its content, the other wild, unscripted and unbound.
Female creative power is an undeniable and vital force of nature. As such it is usually misunderstood, traditionally feared and difficult to restrain. Like barton’s RED, however, it demands respect and deserves to be celebrated.
via The Conversation
The interview with Del Kathryn Barton