Monday, March 10, 2008
Tim Lucas has a really nice post on Philip Kaufman’s Henry and June (1991) over at Video Watchblog that everyone should check out when they get a chance. Reading it reminded me that I really need to go back and give this film another look as it has been well over a decade since I have seen it.
I remember pretty vividly when the film came to Evansville, Indiana during my Senior year of high school. I was a huge fan of both Kaufman’s Invasion Of the Body Snatchers (1978) and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (1988) and had greatly been anticipating Henry And June. Making the film even more appealing was the fact that I had also just discovered Miller’s Tropic Of Cancer and Nin’s Delta Of Venus the year before and was nursing a serious crush on Uma Thurman.
It was raining the Saturday afternoon I drove down to the one theater in Evansville that was willing to show NC-17 films. It was a small two screen theater in the downtown area that had been there for years and I wasn’t too familiar with it so I recall going early in order to find a parking spot. I found one on the street because parking garages have always made me nervous and ID in hand I excitedly walked into the theater for the showing.
The first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t any real promotional material up for the film and it was listed on the marquee but in much smaller letters than the other film they had showing. Walking up to the ticket counter I noticed a hand written sign that said no one under 18 would be allowed into Henry and June which I thought was odd since it was rated NC-17. I asked for a ticket and showed my ID and was promptly denied admission for being just 17.
My initial reaction to this was disbelief and I pointed out that the rating was NC-17 not NC-18 but the rather pompous kid behind the counter refused to budge. I saw some movement in the back office and asked to speak to the management figuring the kid was just being difficult. A rather stodgy older gentleman came out to see what all the fuss was about and I attempted to explain the rating and how at 17 I should be let in. At this point I was starting to panic as the film was getting ready to start and I had to be at work afterwards so I couldn’t go to a later show.
To make a long story short I never got to see Henry and June on the big screen. The manager of the theater explained he knew what the rating meant but he had decided to make the cut off age 18 instead of 17. He couldn’t articulate why but his disapproving aura made it clear he didn’t want to show the film in the first place. I walked out of the theater totally dejected and it was gone after a week.
I saw the film when it hit video but I have always suspected that my opinion of it would have always been higher had I seen it on the big screen that afternoon. It’s funny but I don’t really remember much about it…just moments really with one image of Uma Thurman walking sadly down a hallway with some sort of puppet being the most vivid. Tim’s post makes me want to watch it again and I agree with him that a Special Edition would be very nice.