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Author Julie Maroh on BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR movie, Abdellatif Kechiche, and Lesbian Sex

Blue Is the Warmest Color Lea SeydouxBlue Is the Warmest Color graphic novel writer Julie Maroh discusses Abdellatif Kechiche’s film adaptation, its lesbian sex scenes, and her lack of visibility at the Cannes Film Festival (photo: Léa Seydoux in Blue Is the Warmest Color)

Julie Maroh, the author of the graphic novel on which Abdellatif Kechiche’s 2013 Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color is based, wrote a lengthy essay on her blog following both the film’s Cannes Film Festival win and vociferous anti-gay marriage protests organized by the Christian far-right that drew more than 150,000 people to the French capital.

In the text, Maroh touches on various topics: the "immense and intense" process she has undergone following the movie adaptation of a "ridiculous" story she wrote during the summer when she was 19; her concerns regarding the "banalization of homosexuality"; Abdellatif Kechiche’s handling of the film’s widely discussed lesbian sex scenes; and the fact that the movie adaptor kept the author of the original text at a distance both during the production of Blue Is the Warmest Color and at the Cannes Film Festival itself. (See also: “Blue Is the Warmest Color Director Congratulated by Tunisia’s Islamic Government.”)

Blue Is the Warmest Color tells the story of the love affair between a blue-haired woman in her 20s (Léa Seydoux) and a dark-haired one in her teens (Adèle Exarchopoulos). The film opens in France on October 9, and in North America — via IFC Films’ Sundance Selects — probably some time later this year.

And here are a few snippets from Julie Maroh’s essay ("adapted" — via the French original — from the English-language version found here):

’The banalization of homosexuality’

What interests me is the banalization of homosexuality. I didn’t write a book to preach to the choir, I didn’t write a book only for lesbians.

[Blue Is the Warmest Color] is a purely Kechichian film, with the typical characters that inhabit his cinematic universe. As a result, his heroine has a personality that is very different from mine, that’s true. But what he has created is coherent, justified, and fluid. It’s a masterstroke.

Don’t go watch it expecting to experience what you went through while reading [the graphic novel]. You’ll recognize its tonalities, but you’ll discover that the movie is something else altogether.

Blue Is the Warmest Color lesbian sex scenes ’turned into porn’

When it comes to the ass [translated as "banging" on the site’s English-language text] … Yes, when it comes to the ass [banging] … Since it has been on the lips of those who talk about the film … First of all, I should clarify that in the three-hour film, these scenes take up only a few minutes. If we talk about them so much that’s because of the director’s approach.

I believe that Kechiche and I have opposing, and possibly complementary, aesthetic approaches. The manner he has chosen to shoot [the lesbian sex] scenes is coherent with the rest of what he has created. Sure, to me that feels far from my method of creation and representation, but it would be quite stupid of me to reject something on the pretext that it’s different from my own vision.

That’s me as a writer. Now, as a lesbian…

It’s clear to me what was missing on the [Blue Is the Warmest Color] set: lesbians.

I don’t know the sources of information for the director and the actresses (all straight, unless proven otherwise) and I was never consulted beforehand. Maybe there was someone present to coarsely show with her hands the possible positions and/or to show them some so-called "lesbian" porn (unfortunately, rarely made for a lesbian audience).

Because — apart from a few instances — that’s what [the lesbian sex scenes] brought to mind: a display both brutal and surgical, demonstrational and cold of so-called lesbian sex, which is turned into porn, and that made me feel very ill at ease.

Especially when, inside a movie theater, everyone tries to contain their laughter: the heteronormative ones because they don’t understand it and find the scene ridiculous; the gays and transgender people because it’s not convincing, and they find it equally ridiculous. And among the only people not heard laughing are possibly guys too busy feasting their eyes on an incarnation of one of their fantasies.

As a feminist and lesbian audience member, I cannot follow ["endorse" in the English-language version] the direction Kechiche took on those matters.

Anyhow, I don’t see the film as a betrayal. In my view, when it comes to adapting another work, the concept of betrayal should be reconsidered. Because I lost control of my book the moment I made it available for reading. It’s an object destined to be handled, felt, interpreted. [Maroh then adds that Kechiche’s own work has gone through the same process.]

["Author Julie Maroh on Blue Is the Warmest Color movie adaptation, Abdellatif Kechiche, and Lesbian Sex Scenes" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Léa Seydoux in Blue Is the Warmest Color photo: Wild Bunch.

Continue Reading: BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR Movie: Julie Maroh Not Thrilled with Treatment by Abdellatif Kechiche

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