Spare Bed-Room (Frans Zwartjes, 1969, Netherlands)

Spare Bedroom (1970) is a short film by Frans Zwartjes. The film, shot in black and white, opens with an image of a bedroom. This is followed by still images of a couple in various poses. We then shift to a woman entering a room, her chest exposed and staring at a man. We see the man and woman, with Zwartjes' characteristic white makeup, in various Bergmanesque poses - all against a classical soundtrack. Like Living (1971), the film evokes a sense of disorientation and sexual tension within a domestic space. 

We finally are introduced to the couple in a two-shot. They seem to be embracing at times, touching each other's hair. But this is unlike a normal embrace - it is rather alien. The man continually covers the woman's face with her black hair. We then suddenly shift to another domestic space, this time with a loop of a woman in a floral dress, against a backdrop of floral wallpaper. This woman, too, also appears to be under the control of the same man. The motif of power and control is now quite apparent in the film - this is now an articulation of an abusive and suffocating relationship. The embraces here are once again cold and alien-like - a pale imitation of human intimacy.

The uncomfortable embrace continues, and eventually the woman falls into an almost totally dissociative state. The imagery progressively becomes more sexual and violent throughout, culminating with the presence of a spider. The woman crushes the spider under her foot, but the man arrives and wrestles her to the floor, pushing her under the bed and taking her spot. Spare Bedroom is an uncomfortable short film about an abusive relationship that articulates many of the same themes in Zwartjes' other films, as well as his stylistic preoccupations.



Popular Posts