Jane Arden’s The Other Side of the Underneath is a seriously disturbing film. It is also an uncharacteristically bold one. I think that in a lot of ways it is quite similar to Bernardo Bertollucci’s Partner (1968), a film about a young revolutionary, played by Pierre Clementi, whose life changes dramatically when a double appears and foils his plan to commit suicide. In the opening scene of The Other Side, a schizophrenic woman (Sheila Allen, The Legend of Spider Forest) is pulled out of a lake and placed in an asylum.
The film is based on director Arden’s “A New Communion for Freaks, Prophets and Witches”, a play she staged with the Holocaust women’s theatre troupe. It is comprised of a number of different episodes, each exploring a specific theme – female exploitation, voyeurism, sexual deprivation, etc. The Other Side is also a reflection of its creator’s brush with madness.
The key concept behind The Other Side is intriguing. The film argues that madness is part of a cycle that leads to sanity. It also stresses that this complex process is often misunderstood by those who have never experienced madness. Cultural and societal taboos are cited amongst the main reasons for its existence. Continue reading