Christabel | Chicago Reader

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Chicagoan James Fotopoulos has garnered critical acclaim, and I've been impressed by his weird and discomforting view of the human body. This creepy, beautiful 2002 feature is loosely based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unfinished poem of lesbian seduction, and its four sections, shown on film and video, parallel the four sections of the poem. Fotopoulos eliminates some characters—all of them men—and abjures narrative to focus on the theme of one woman taking demonic possession of another: the most common image shows hovering bodies superimposed with little or no background, accompanied by droning sounds that further remove them from linear time. The paired figures are often of different sizes, which suggests that one has power over the other, and the slow pace and harsh monochromatic colors make flesh seem like a prison. 74 min.

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