Foxtrot is a 1976 British-Mexican drama film directed by Arturo Ripstein and starring Peter O’TooleCharlotte Rampling and Max von Sydow.

The story follows a Romanian aristocrat, Alexander Petrovic (Peter O’Toole), who retreats to a desert island with his wife, Gabrielle (Charlotte Rampling), and their servants on the eve of World War II.

At the beginning of WW2, Liviu, a Romanian count, and his wife Julia come to live on an uninhabited tropical island, where they hope to escape the war and their past. They bring with them all conceivable provisions and their servants, and live in luxury in a mansion-like tent on the beach. After a short time, a group of uninvited friends arrive. They decimate the supplies and, in the course of a frenzied shooting party, kill every living animal on the island before leaving, bringing most of the servants with them. The only people left on the island are Liviu and his wife, their friend Larson, and one servant, Eusebio. The expected supplies do not arrive, the party has no way of communicating with the outside world, and passion is rife between the one woman and three men on the island. As supplies run short, mistrust, greed and jealousy threaten their idyllic life style.

The movie explores themes of isolation, desire, and human nature, all of which are reminiscent of the principles of Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty.

The Theater of Cruelty, as developed by Artaud, was a form of theater that aimed to evoke strong emotional and physical responses from its audience. It rejected traditional forms of theater, which relied on dialogue and character development, in favor of more primal, visceral experiences. This was achieved through the use of intense sound, movement, and visual effects, all of which were designed to shock and unsettle the audience. The central idea behind the Theater of Cruelty was to create a space where the audience could confront the raw, unfiltered aspects of their own humanity.

Similarly, Foxtrot is a movie that explores the raw, unfiltered aspects of human nature. The characters in the movie are thrust into an extreme situation, isolated on a deserted island with limited resources and no way to contact the outside world. As their situation becomes increasingly dire, they are forced to confront their own desires, fears, and flaws. The movie depicts the struggle between civilization and primal instincts, as the characters’ relationships are strained by mistrust, greed, and jealousy. The tension and conflict that arise among the characters are reminiscent of the intense emotional responses that Artaud sought to elicit in his audiences.

Another key aspect of the Theater of Cruelty was its use of ritual and symbolism. Artaud believed that theater should be a kind of spiritual experience, one that transcended the boundaries of language and rational thought. He sought to create a kind of “language of the body,” a series of movements and gestures that could communicate deep, primal truths. This emphasis on ritual and symbolism is also present in Foxtrot, particularly in the movie’s use of imagery and visual motifs. The barren landscape of the island, for example, serves as a powerful symbol of the characters’ isolation and helplessness. The recurring image of the foxtrot dance, which Liviu and Julia perform on the beach, serves as a metaphor for the characters’ attempt to maintain a sense of order and control in an increasingly chaotic world.

In conclusion, the movie Foxtrot shares many similarities with the principles of Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty. Both explore the raw, unfiltered aspects of human nature, using intense emotional experiences to elicit a response from their audiences. Both also emphasize ritual and symbolism as a means of transcending language and rational thought. Foxtrot is a powerful and thought-provoking movie that offers a compelling exploration of human nature and the struggle between civilization and primal instincts.

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