The protagonist in Bigas Luna’s erotic thriller is a prostitute and stripper named Bilbao. She becomes the murky object of desire for a stalker who wants her like a collector craves a valuable showpiece. For Leo, sexual gratification is not as important as possession. At the same time, he is in a relationship with an older woman, a relationship in which milk plays a major role. Set in the stuffy interiors of nightclubs, a slaughterhouse and the bedroom, linking sex with death and the body with meat, the film creates an evocative aura of growing anxiety. Filmed after the collapse of the dictatorship of General Franco, when censorship was lifted in Spain, Bilbao was treated for a long time like many other erotic films from that decade, as a sexist fantasy that captures women in the trap of a masculine gaze, refusing them subjectivity. Although it actually comes from a form of stripping known as destape, Luna’s tasteful, dark softcore film is, on the one hand, a violent reaction to decades of oppression and censorship, and, on the other, a fascinating deconstruction of the violent patriarchal masculinity of the Franco era, which saw only two roles for women: as mothers or whores.
Bigas Luna (1946–2013) was a Catalan director and screenwriter, as well as a painter, furniture designer and pioneer of new technologies. He was responsible for the first acting successes of Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. He directed the famous Iberian Trilogy (Jamon Jamon, Golden Balls and La Teta y la Luna). The first of these films landed him a Silver Lion in Venice, and he received a Special Jury Prize in San Sebastián for Golden Balls. He tried his hand in America, but after the commercial failure of Reborn (1981), he returned to Spain. At the beginning of his career, he made a series of short porn films on Super 8 film called Historias impudicas. He had an interest in erotica from the very beginning, which he often associated with food, fetishes and obsessions. He was passionate about deconstructing the macho legacy of the Franco dictatorship.
1971 Caniche / Piesek
1990 Lulu / Las edades de Lulú
1992 Jamón, Jamón / Szynka, szynka
1993 Złote jaja / Huevos de oro
1994 La teta y la luna / Księżyc i pierś
1997 La femme de chambre du Titanic / Pokojówka z Titanica