Blue Movie (stylized as blue movie; also known as Fuck) is a 1969 American film written, produced, and directed by Andy Warhol. Blue Movie, the first adult erotic film depicting explicit sex to receive wide theatrical release in the United States, is a seminal film in the Golden Age of Porn and helped inaugurate the "porno chic" phenomenon in modern American culture, and later, in many other countries throughout the world. According to Warhol, Blue Movie was a major influence in the making of Last Tango in Paris, an internationally controversial erotic drama film, starring Marlon Brando, and released a few years after Blue Movie was made. Viva and Louis Waldon, playing themselves, starred in Blue Movie.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Andy Warhol|
|Produced by||Andy Warhol
|Written by||Andy Warhol|
Andy Warhol Films
|Distributed by||Andy Warhol Films|
|June 13, 1969|
The film includes dialogue about the Vietnam War, various mundane tasks and, as well, unsimulated sex, during a blissful afternoon in a New York City apartment (owned by art critic David Bourdon). The film was presented in the press as, "a film about the Vietnam War and what we can do about it." Warhol added, "the movie is about ... love, not destruction."
Warhol explained that the lack of a plot in Blue Movie was intentional:
|“||Scripts bore me. It's much more exciting not to know what's going to happen. I don't think that plot is important. If you see a movie of two people talking, you can watch it over and over again without being bored. You get involved – you miss things – you come back to it ... But you can't see the same movie over again if it has a plot because you already know the ending ... Everyone is rich. Everyone is interesting. Years ago, people used to sit looking out of their windows at the street. Or on a park bench. They would stay for hours without being bored although nothing much was going on. This is my favorite theme in movie making – just watching something happening for two hours or so ... I still think it's nice to care about people. And Hollywood movies are uncaring. We're pop people. We took a tour of Universal Studios in Los Angeles and, inside and outside the place, it was very difficult to tell what was real. They're not-real people trying to say something. And we're real people not trying to say anything. I just like everybody and I believe in everything.||”|
|— Andy Warhol, cited by Victor Bockris in his book, Warhol: the Biography (2003), p. 327.|
According to Viva: “The Warhol films were about sexual disappointment and frustration: the way Andy saw the world, the way the world is, and the way nine-tenths of the population sees it, yet pretends they don’t.”
Andy Warhol described making Blue Movie as follows: "I'd always wanted to do a movie that was pure fucking, nothing else, the way [my film] Eat had been just eating and [my film] Sleep had been just sleeping. So in October '68 I shot a movie of Viva having sex with Louis Waldon. I called it just Fuck."
The film itself acquired a blue/green tint because Warhol used the wrong kind of film during production. He used film meant for filming night-scenes, and the sun coming through the apartment window turned the film blue.
According to Wheeler Winston Dixon, American filmmaker and scholar, who attended the first screening of the film at Warhol's Factory (33 Union Square West, Manhattan, New York City) in the Spring of 1969:
|“||Why [Blue Movie was blue]? Well, Warhol used 16mm reversal film for his movies, and if you were shooting color film in the 1960s and 70s, two of the most popular choices for film stock were Eastman Reversal 7241, balanced for use outdoors; and Eastman Reversal 7242, balanced for tungsten (indoor) lighting. If you shot Eastman 7242 outside without using a Wratten 85B filter, the image would become completely blue; and that’s what was happening here. The only light used was the daylight coming through the window, thus making the final image very, very blue indeed ... When the film ended ... I heard Warhol asking someone plaintively “why is the whole second reel all blue?,” so I told him about 7242, 7241, and the need to use the proper filter to balance the color when you used indoor stock outdoors, or vice versa. “Ohhhhhhh” said Andy. Long pause. “Well, I guess we should call it Blue Movie.” ... Antonioni [also present at the showing] laughed, as well, appreciating the obvious double entendre; a “blue movie” that really was a blue movie ... Vincent Canby noted [in his New York Times review] that the film was “literally a cool, greenish-blue in color.” Now you know why.||”|
|— Wheeler Winston Dixon, cited in his article, Andy Warhol, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Blue Movie (2012).|
Variety magazine, on June 18, 1969, reported that the film was the "first theatrical feature to actually depict intercourse." While initially shown at The Factory, Blue Movie was not presented to a wider audience until it was shown at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theater (152 Bleecker Street, Lower Manhattan, New York City, NY 10012) on July 21, 1969.
Viva, in Paris, finding that Blue Movie was getting a lot of attention, said, "Timothy Leary loved it. Gene Youngblood (an LA film critic) did too. He said I was better than Vanessa Redgrave and it was the first time a real movie star had made love on the screen. It was a real breakthrough."
On July 31, 1969, the staff of the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre were arrested, and the film confiscated. The theater manager was eventually fined $250. Afterwards, the manager said, "I don't think anyone was harmed by this movie ... I saw other pictures around town and this was a kiddie matinee compared to them." Warhol said, "What's pornography anyway? ... The muscle magazines are called pornography, but they're really not. They teach you how to have good bodies ... I think movies should appeal to prurient interests. I mean the way things are going now – people are alienated from one another. Blue Movie was real. But it wasn't done as pornography—it was done as an exercise, an experiment. But I really do think movies should arouse you, should get you excited about people, should be prurient. Prurience is part of the machine. It keeps you happy. It keeps you running."
When Last Tango in Paris, an internationally controversial erotic drama film, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Marlon Brando, was released in 1972, Warhol considered Blue Movie to be the inspiration, according to Bob Colacello, the editor of Interview, a magazine dedicated to Pop Culture that was founded by Warhol in 1969.
Nonetheless, and also in 1970, Mona, the second adult erotic film, after Blue Movie, depicting explicit sex that received a wide theatrical release in the United States, was shown. Shortly thereafter, other adult films, such as Boys in the Sand, Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Miss Jones were released, continuing the Golden Age of Porn begun with Blue Movie. In 1973, the phenomenon of porn being publicly discussed by celebrities (like Johnny Carson and Bob Hope) and taken seriously by film critics (like Roger Ebert), a development referred to, by Ralph Blumenthal of The New York Times, as "porno chic", began, for the first time, in modern American culture, and later, in many other countries throughout the world. In 1976, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (and its derivative, My Fair Lady), and directed by Radley Metzger, was released theatrically and is considered, by award-winning author Toni Bentley, the "crown jewel" of the Golden Age of Porn.
Blue Movie was publicly screened in New York City in 2005, for the first time in more than 30 years. Also in New York City, but more recently, in 2016, the film was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.
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