Thursday, March 07, 2019

Mondo Freudo (1966)

Ever more desperate for new angles with which to frame and legitimise their, mainly faked, footage, Mondo movie makers came up with ever more bizarre premises for their movies.   Consequently, the producers of Mondo Freudo make the preposterous claim that their film somehow explores the 'world of Sigmund Freud' in a desperate grasping at some shreds of credibility.  Unfortunately, they seem to think that the work of Freud equates to sex - the more perverse and shocking the better.  Now, I'm no expert on Freudian psychiatric theory, but I'm familiar enough with his work to know that it is about a lot more than simply sex.  It's true that is work explored the psycho-sexual aspect of human behaviour (and his one time colleague Carl Jung did eventually break with on the grounds that Freud was putting too much emphasis on sex), but I somehow doubt that he would have endorsed this film.

As ever, the film's target audience are repressed middle aged men convinced that somebody, somewhere, is getting more than their fair share of sex.  As Philip Larkin once noted, sex was invented in the sixties - suddenly it seemed to be everywhere and if you weren't getting it, there was something wrong with you.  The media perpetuated the idea that there were various 'hot spots' around the world - such as London's Soho, Japan, Mexico, Berlin - where not just regular sex was available 'on tap', but also more exotic varieties that men could only dream of, (or read about in the lurid pages of men's magazines).  Mondo Freudo sets out to exploit those furtive thrill seekers too timid to actually go to these places and see for themselves what was happening in this new world of sex, (not much, in reality), by going there for them.  Or not, as the case might be: wherever the various bits of footage making up the film purport to have been shot, they all look distinctly like California.  The 'exotic' sex presented includes a bit of Japanese S&M, a Mexican sex slave auction (a favourite theme in these films) and some London lesbians.  The fact that lesbians are presented as some kind of fabled creature speaks volumes as to the sort of audience the film was aimed at.

If all the business about using cameras with powerful telescopic lenses to secretly capture the action sounds familiar, it is because the trailer for Mondo Bizarro, which we looked at a while ago, uses the same schtick.  Which isn't surprising as both are from the stable of producer/director/writer/editor R L Frost, who, when not putting together these mock Mondos using faked footage, was busily assembling 'genuine' Mondos from chopped up and re-purposed footage from Italian originals.  Of course, the emphasis upon using these cameras fundamentally alters the whole character of the Mondo from supposed documentaries using footage filmed with the knowledge and consent of the participants, to pure voyeurism.   A voyeurism that 'takes you to places you never dreamed of', but only if you are very unimaginative. 



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