HENRY AND JUNE
Runtime: 136 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Philip Kaufman
Producer: Peter Kaufman
Writer: Philip Kaufman and Rose Kaufman
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HENRY AND JUNE deals with the sexual taboos of 1930's Paris in its exploration of the menage a trois relationship between writers Henry Miller and Anais Nin, and Miller's wife, June. The unexpurgated diaries of Nin, in which she chronicles her affair with Miller and his wife, are paired with Miller's raunchy novels to bring debauched moral filth to the big screen.
The film's title, although taken from Nin's diary, turns out to be a misnomer: the story centers on Miller and Nin's relationship with Miller's wife playing a nominal role. In fact, June is off-screen much of the time.
The film opens with Anais (who has published a defense of the "notorious" British author, D.H. Lawrence) and her banker husband, Hugo, establishing themselves in Paris. Soon, it is understood that Anais tolerates her somewhat stuffy husband, but confides her secret, erotic longings to her diary.
With Miller's arrival in Paris, Anais quickly realizes that they are "two of a kind" in their ideas and dreams, and before long, they engage in a love affair. At the same time, she senses an attraction to June, who visits infrequently from America.
During this time, Anais still has relations with Hugo. On one occasion, after Miller has been impotent, she returns home to make love to her husband. Subsequently, she and her husband visit a brothel (one Miller frequents) and hires his favorite prostitute, and another woman, to perform immoral sexual acts.
HENRY AND JUNE depicts the bohemian side of Depression-era, 1930s Paris with its effete sexual candor. Through his novels, Miller has become an exaggerated symbol, perhaps the epitome of the literary generation of the twenties in revolt against the Victorian conventions of the previous generation which were misconstrued as American Puritanism (The writings of the Puritans demonstrate a much greater appreciation of the humanity of Jesus, as well as His divinity, and the consequent humanity of man). Like D.H. Lawrence, another offspring of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Miller represents the complete destruction of sexual and other taboos which supposedly stand in the way of the fulfillment of the individual libido (to the detriment of man's immortal soul, as even Freud admitted). Unlike Lawrence, however, he is often led by this credo into a pre-occupation with the abnormal and degraded aspects of sexuality.
Ad infinitum, ad nauseam. As the Apostle Paul points out in Ephesians 5.12: "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." In the final analysis, the film wallows in its despicable moral deviation, looseness and examples. To be sure, every person desires an intimate, fulfilling relationship, but such a relationship can only be found in and through a personal relationship with God. Thus, the idea that sexual deviate relationships can be fulfilling is not only erroneous, but abhorrent to God, and as such, must be shunned.
Although it is fun to spar with the feeble demons of humanism, the fact is that the film is much more profane than it is profound or prurient. Thus, this review, and the others which the film will engender, will serve more to highlight the artistic aspects of the craft than the film which will induce susceptible individuals to commit crimes against their souls, while confused and bored by the degradation of ennui in this lifeless piece of pornography. Rather than waste your time, one would be better off standing against these deceitful and licentious wiles of the Adversary.
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