Film maker Wesley Chambers shares his top five “Death and the Maiden” films with us. These are not only must see movies but also the masterpieces that influenced his latest film Ligatures. You can watch Wesley’s short film by following the link and find yourself on a seductively surreal journey with two deathly maidens.
– Wesley Chambers –
Wesley is a South London born, North London raised city kid. As an only child his home life was where he found his passion for film. With no sibling distractions he voraciously watched any VHS tape found lying in the film cupboard. By the age of 11 his eclectic tastes for the antihero, drama & European art house was cemented by his holy trinity of Batman, Steel Magnolias and The Seventh Seal.
Wesley freelancing experience on projects ranging from TV shorts to indie features.
You can learn more about Wesley and his passion for film here.
My latest short film Ligatures focuses on a young woman’s journey to bury the ashes of her boyfriend. A surreal road trip that teases the audience with images of death, rural spaces and female interaction:
This brief retrospective gives a whistle stop tour of my top five influences, offering images of the fairer sex peppered with themes of death and dying…
5. Steel Magnolias (Herbert Ross, 1989)
I was around 10 years of age when I caught this female ensemble tale of small-town life in a Louisiana Parish. One plot line involving Shelby (Julia Roberts) and her battle with type one diabetes was gripping to me as a young boy, I was drawn to the cover because of the beautiful female cast. After several viewings I was amazed by the film’s ominous opening and the themes of life, love and death.
4. Kids (Larry Clark, 1995)
As a teen in the mid 90’s, I remember being introduced via VHS to the character Jennie. It’s no spoiler saying that I was shocked by the frank delivery of the STD results scene that turned (Chloë Sevigny’s) Jennie into a generation X indie Angel of Death. It’s little moments like this that cemented my interest in the correlation between women and death in cinema. I was drawn to this young woman’s odyssey through New York City to tell her lover her sorrowful news.
3. Ms .45 – Angel of Vengeance (Abel Ferrara, 1981)
Another NY tale, however this tale is of rape and revenge. It sees our mute anti-heroine, Thana (see the deathly connotation already – Google Thanatos) exert her misandry on an array of men who cross her path. The low budget constraints form a heady mix of violence and artistry that held many thematic reference points when writing the Ligatures short screenplay.
2. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren,1943)
This experimental short really opened up my ideas towards imagery and non linear narratives. A mirror faced, hooded Grim Reaper like figure haunts the waking dreams of a young woman. I’m a big fan of the filmmakers vision, the haunting, hypnopompic visions that may or may not be real. This is an avant-garde masterpiece that juxtaposes themes relating to the subconscious mind, psychological issues and of course death. All of which are present in my latest film.
1. Les Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)
A mediocre boarding school provides the setting for this glorious Thriller. Death, desire and two leading dames. A dynamic that I have employed. I won’t say anymore. A must see!
That’s it, the most relevant celluloid moments of wonder that have left their indelible frames on my film making mind. Whether through visual/narrative homage, reference points for collaborators or passion rousing memories, these films will be present for the pre-production stages for the Ligatures feature which is currently in development.
Honourable “Deathly Maiden” mentions
Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
Dogtooth (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2009)
Harold & Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004)
Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1977)
Stoker (Chan-wook Park, 2013)