Submissiveness of the Death Drive

During Diego Semerene’s lecture, he mentioned the aquatic metaphors of Stranger By the Lake, as the imagery of water connotes sensuality, mystery, and fluidity. In the universe of the film, the lake serves as an oasis of freely accepted homosexuality, both being a freedom but also a dangerous space. With this infinite freedom, the characters begin to accept their innate animalism and evoke a death-drive similar to that of Lord of the Flies. Linda William’s “Cinema Sex Acts” points to the interaction where Franck’s casual sex partner asks for a condom but neither of them have. William’s parallels Boys in the Sand with Franck’s passivity to barebacking in which the “hedonistic enjoyment and unprotected sex in a practice that today carries the specter of the death-seeking practice of barebacking (unprotected sex in the era of the awareness of AIDS)”  (Williams 16). Franck’s sexual practices, as well as his attraction to the lethal Michel, is perhaps not an active choice for risk, but perhaps passive one, in which he allows himself to submit his body to the universe around him. This helplessness in a dangerous world is both death-driven and celebratory of enjoying the pleasures of living freely. Other queer films, like Moonlight and Blue is the Warmest Color, feature scenes in which queer characters float in a body of water. In Blue, post-breakup Adele escapes the shore where she’s building sandcastles with her students to float in the ocean where she can be cleanse herself of happy facade and be engrossed by her sadness. In Moonlight, a young, insecure Chiron floats on his back for a swimming lesson courtesy of his new, accepting mentor Juan. All three movies feature a highly vulnerable, yet resistant character who embodies a strength in their resilience towards a world their victim of. Franck sees past the veneer of his lover in order to escape the relationship (?), Adele overcomes a love for someone who has moved on, and Chiron accepts who he is and stands up to the world that abused him. Water, in these films, may represent the beauty of being helpless, similar to that one experiences in their youth. Semerene mentioned the water as a “return to the womb,” where maybe the death-drive is when, beyond childhood, we can only be free again.


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