Titus Andronicus 013
review by Grace X
Now I have been mightily impressed by Chris' "Shakespeare Theater" series. He seems to be
pulling out all the stops on quality for these, and it shows. I've confessed before that I'm not a big
Shakespeare gal...I love my stories of spies and assassins and the like ever so much. But I am a fan
of displays of quality, particularly in this genre, where (let's face it), a lot of real crap abounds.
In Chris' "Othello 011" we got a gorgeous, moving tale of lovers wanting a beautiful death, which I
gave my highest rating, the Golden Gun. In his next one, "Hamlet 012", I didn't do a solo review, but
took part in the great discussion it started up about death/sex productions actually qualifying as art.
That's pretty heady stuff.
So here we go, with "Titus Andronicus". (Before I really get into it, Chris, um...what is with the 013? I
get that Othello was filmed in 2011 and Hamlet in 2012, but did I fall asleep and miss a whole slew of
months? I think you are just messing with our heads because it's fun, lol.)
All right, let's talk Titus. I actually KNOW this story, at least a little.
I watched the wildly intense Hollywood movie of this tale starring
Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange back around 1999 or
whenever it came out. I watched it more than anything to see
Jessica, 'cause she is ONE BADASS SHAKESPEARE GIRL as
Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. I mean, this woman is sexy,
and she is BAD. My kind of gal.
She also ends up getting killed in the end by a knife in the
throat, which I also got quite a bit turned on by, I must admit.
Shakespeare plays rough in this one!
Now in Chris' version (written by Othello, as are
the other death and sex Shakespeare flicks),
Tamora is played by Belle, one of my favorite
erotica noir actresses.
Just look at her haughty face there, and I think
you get the point that she is one tough bitch.
Belle is, to my mind, a little young for the part.
Tamora is a MILF, isn't she? Or a MILMAF (Mother
I'd love to murder and fuck). But there's a little
tagline on Chris' synopsis about this being a
"dream of a younger Titus"...okay, I'll buy that I
guess, just 'cause I love Belle.
And Chris himself is Titus! Chris really is a splendid actor, and he shows it here, in the role played in
the Hollywood film by Anthony Hopkins. He has such a rich voice—really, a voice any actor would
die for—which of course is just perfect for Shakespeare. A word here too, about Chris’ physical
appeal. To my mind he is an exceptionally handsome man. Tall, with a bearish build, I find him to be
sensually commanding in the films that he appears in. The force of his presence, both in the
dramatic sections of the movie and the sex scenes, totally turns me on. Just saying!
As the film opens he is drinking wine in a very classy dinner-table setting, and without a word, it’s
clear he is simmering with anger. The story here is that he and Tamora are bitter enemies, and have
spent considerable time wrecking each other’s lives with conquest, murder and other mayhem. All
of this has driven Titus a bit crazy, and she decides to push him over the edge of madness by
coming to his home to tease, taunt and bedevil him into thinking she is the Spirit of Revenge, come
straight from hell.
They indulge in some great malicious sniping at one another, and Tamora strips for him, but in a
distinctly taunting manner.
Tamora is sometimes arrogantly sure of
herself, and at others not so much, as
Titus behaves in unexpected ways (like
when she stands before him nude and
asks “What can Naked Revenge do for you?”,
he sits her roughly down, says “Feast with
me”, and pours her a drink of exceedingly
He then pulls out this big old knife and lays it on the table. Another unsure look from Tamora, but
then she gets into it, picking up the blade and toying with it across her breasts, then pointing it at
Titus and accusing him of humiliating her and murdering her son. Well well, she’s been doing some
murder herself, and had her other sons rape and mutilate Titus’ daughter to boot. The tension
between them as they swap accusations is like a thunderstorm about to break.
And break it does, when Tamora finally
tells him to bring her sons before her if he
thinks they are guilty of the crime…and he
sneers the revelation that it won’t be
possible, since he’s murdered them too,
and squeezed the blood from their hearts
into that bitter wine she’s been drinking.
Horrified, she pushes the wine glass away, unaware that Titus has picked up the nylon she
discarded during her earlier strip-tease…
Now up to this point I found this movie stylish and fascinating. But the murder scene itself is where
my eyes went wide with flat-out amazement. Everyone who’s read a word I’ve ever written knows
that I’m an erotic bad-girl murder fetishist in a big way. Shoot me, stab me, break my neck, cut my
throat…all of those fantasies turn me on. But my favorite is to be strangled. So needless to say, I’ve
watched a lot of sex strangles. In fact, I’ll admit it, I’m a jaded bitch when it comes to sex strangles.
They get me wet and I love them (in fact I can never get enough!), but I’ve seen ‘em all. Or, IMAO, I
THOUGHT I had.
This, bar none, is the most intense erotic strangle I have ever seen.
Technically, it's flawless. I'm going to give Chris' cinematographer Irma some props here, as I'm
presuming she is behind the camera. The angles, close-ups, long views are artfully blended, and
there is some really stunning camera-work like the one you see of Tamora actually viewed through
the wine glass, highlighting the death the bloody drink symbolizes. But all technical achievement
aside, this scene goes to a fantasy place I long to experience but that few (if any) films ever
capture. The emotion is feverish...it catches the lightning-in-a-bottle that I sum up in a single
phrase: murderous passion. Accent on the passion. Jesus, do you see how TIGHT that nylon
ligature is? How Chris as Titus uses the chair to leverage it? How her skin is bulging out between
the folds of the stocking? How her eyes actually turn red and bloodshot? Holy Christ. I know Belle
is acting, but never have I been so absolutely INSIDE the sensations of an erotic strangle. Her
orgasmic death-movements sent me over the freaking top. By the time she drops dead to the table-
top, I was in a trance...all I wanted in that moment was for a powerful man to take me -- I mean, take
HER -- sexually.
And Chris and Belle take me there. God, I would have screamed in frustration if he had just posed
her and left her! But thank God, the next act is necrosex, and it is explicit (just the way I like it), and
hot beyond belief. Tamora, the Queen of the bloody Goths, who used sex for power, revenge, and
mayhem, gets taken one last time. And me right along with her.
Oh. My. God. I have never felt so high, so ravished from watching a sex-death film.
One other point that needs mentioning...I was surprised listening to the soundtrack of this film, that
it opens and closes with original songs written and performed by Chris. He has mentioned before
that he does music as well as films, but who knew he was this good?! That wonderful voice of his
again is just mesmerizing, and I thought the music created an environment that was very
modern/edgy. Just the fact that Chris would put an extra like this into the film is just another
indicator of the commitment he brought to it.
Chris, Belle, Irma, Othello, and everyone else associated with "Titus Andronicus"...you have
committed art. Not prissy-pretty art...wildly intense, unforgettably sexual art.
This is not your English teacher's boring Shakespeare. This is hard-edged genius.
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