Det Erotiske Menneske (The Erotic Man) (2010)

Erotic Man (Det Erotiske Menneske) (Director: Jørgen Leth): This somewhat experimental and extremely personal film raised so many issues for me to think about that I’m not sure my rating will align much with that of other reviewers. I don’t mind at all. Leth, who has been making films for more than 40 years, has made perhaps his most honest and personal one yet.

An examination of the erotic, it’s more of a personal memoir, a record of an attempt to recreate (or create) memories or fantasies (romantic/sexual) from years of experiences all over the world. Leth seems to have an affinity for the exotic, having traveled extensively in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Since 1991, he’s lived in Haiti, and this film seems to have emerged from a long-term love affair he experienced there. In fact, this film and his memoir The Imperfect Man have caused controversy in his native Denmark because in them he details his relationship with Dorothie, the 17-year-old daughter of his cook. It’s very clear from the film that his five years with Dorothie were among the happiest in his life, and his attempts to describe the erotic can be seen as an extended love letter to her. At the beginning of the film, we are simply presented with several sequences of beautiful women, often nude, reciting poetry. We move from Haiti to Senegal to Brazil, from 1999 to 2002 to 2008. Are these love affairs simply captured documentary-style? Then Leth pulls back the curtain. We see him in Brazil at a casting session. He’s looking for beautiful women for his film. He tells them he’s recreating memories of past love affairs, and each woman is to lounge naked on a hotel bed, reciting a poem (often his own — Leth was an accomplished poet before he ever began making films) and simulating post-coital bliss. It’s a constructed dream, and the women are paid to portray memories and feelings they’ve never had.