Salomé and The Forbidden
Salomé draws inspiration from the Biblical tale and follows on from Clive’s staged production in Liverpool of Oscar Wilde’s play (as The Hydra Theatre Company). Filmed partly on Hale Beach, partly in a florist’s cellar at night the film is a poetic interpretation of the famous story.
As Clive reflected, when asked about the subject matter for his first film, he responded eagerly, “The Salomé story: boy, there are layers to that story. It’s a very sexual story, it’s a very ritualistic story, it’s a bargain story. The story had always attracted me. The Bible is a source of inspiration constantly for me and remains a significant source of inspiration. The references to Salomé in the Bible are I think slight but, nevertheless, Biblical stories, if they are good stories, have a kind of primal quality to them.”
Clive used the film to attempt to gain funding for his next proposed film project, The Forbidden, and despite his feeling about the technical quality of the footage compared to the movie in his mind, his concerns were not shared by others. He says, “I remember when we got £300 from the Liverpool Film Association or whatever, I showed the man Salomé and I was squirming with embarrassment at how rough it was, but he was astonished at what we had achieved.”
The Forbidden is a personal interpretation of the story of Faust’s bargain with the Devil, a scenario that would eventually be re-employed by Clive as the driving force behind both The Damnation Game and The Hellbound Heart.
Fade up on a room, empty. It has a square latticed window (very simple), white walls, white floor boards, black window frame and latticework. No curtains. Firstly, in a series of long, very evenly paced pans, the camera examines this room to set the limits of this film, to assert the room’s coolness, its total lack of complicity. On one wall, opposite the window, a reproduction of Gericault’s ‘Horse Frightened By Lightning’. No other ornament. A blue bulb.
Whiteness: titles. Move away from a piece of paper on a small black table. The table has a drawer in it. A young man (25) sits at the table and proceeds to fold the piece of paper into an origami form. He does it without thinking. His white face registers nothing, his black hair is short and slicked back. The music that plays in a different room may or may not be his choice. It is Schubert.
“In short, they are technically extremely crude and their storylines obscure. Salomé vaguely follows the biblical tale of lust, dance, martyrdom and murder, but only vaguely; The Forbidden, though derived from the Faust story, is steeped in a delirium all of its own. Notwithstanding, the images still carry a measure of raw power some two decades on, in part perhaps because the context is otherwise so unsophisticated.”
“I think [The Forbidden] has a weird sort of life to it and it’s interesting because it contains all those imagistic prophecies of things that would later appear in either the short stories – tattooing, voyeurism and so on – or in the Hellraiser movies, obviously. So put together with Salomé, even though they were movies made at the most primitive level (I think the only more primitive way you could do it is to take a length of film and draw on each frame!) actually I think it has a strange poetry about it – they both have a poetry about them – and they do fix in time who we were at a certain point and what our obsessions were – perhaps more particularly what my obsessions were... And so when Frank is skinned, obviously, in Hellraiser, it is a direct development from the moment in The Forbidden when Pete has his skin removed.”
Phil and Sarah Stokes, London, 2012