Blue Green

03.30.09

Isabella Rossellini, Green Porno, 2008–2009, stills from a series of color videos. Left and right: Isabella Rossellini.


WE DEVOUR STORIES about the sex lives of others for the inordinate pleasure of discovering their similarities to, and differences from, our own; the sex lives of insects are no exception. The acts portrayed in Isabella Rossellini’s short-film series Green Porno (2008–2009) are a multifarious sampling of nature’s diversity—yet they are entirely enacted and narrated by Rossellini herself, who, dressed as a male insect, screws inanimate paper representations of her mates. In “Fly,” for example, Rossellini penetrates her “costar” with the lusty abandon of a sex maniac who bangs at “any opportunity, any female!” After this line, the camera lingers on the face of the cardboard fly and then cuts back to Rossellini, as she continuously thrusts. It’s anything but natural—it’s porn.

It is thus a charming surprise that Green Porno’s power lies in what porn all too often lacks. What is best about Green Porno is what is best about sex: It can be joyful, surprising, goofy, guileless, funny, and fun. Even the scenes wherein the male star expresses outright terror and loses his life are delicious. The denouement of “Bee” rivals those found in classical tragedy. “I would die . . . without my penis . . . I would bleed to death” are the bee’s final words, and, while undeniably hilarious, there is something oddly antibathetic about this swan song, as it takes us from the ridiculous to the sublime.

The brevity of the series’s eight films, their low-tech aesthetic, and (as she puts it) their “regular peaceful editing” all serve Rossellini’s aim of creating films for the “third and fourth screens.” Seeing them on the big screen is a rare treat; the release of Green Porno 2, which plumbs the sexual practices of marine life, only doubles the pleasure.

Isabella Rossellini appears in person at the IFC Center on Wednesday, April 1 to present the theatrical premiere of Green Porno 2, as well as a special screening of Roberto Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis (1950). The IFC Center will screen Green Porno in April and May, and Green Porno 2 in June, as part of their “Short Attention Span Cinema” program. Green Porno can also be seen here.

Kelly Alba