The Sexual Transgressions of Carlos Reygadas

Sex is just as hard to handle in video essays as it is in movies. This essay does a fine job, through the creative use of a technique that is itself hard to get right: epigraphic commentary. In an epigraphic essay, the author uses on-screen text instead of a voice over narrator. Such written texts are tricky, for they tend to distract from the images and sounds they comment on. Or worse, they interfere with them on an aesthetic level.


In this video for Fandor’s Keyframe channel, essayist Tope Ogundare finds a great visual use for his written commentaries: he uses them to obscure the explicit sexual acts in Reygadas’ (and other directors’) films. It’s a clever use of a tried and tested censoring technique, because or eye is invariable drawn to the blacked out area anyway so we are tricked by our curiosity into reading Ogundare’s musings.


There is more to this video essay that just the creative (if somewhat rough-hewed) visuals. Ogundare makes a convincing point, arguing that it is not so much the sexual acts in Reygadas’ movies themselves that are transgressive, but more the other boundaries they cross. Boundaries concerning body politics and morality, age and class differences.