Non-porn masochistic movies?
January 23, 2005 3:01 PM   Subscribe

What are some non-pornographic movies that contain examples of masochistic behavior? [MI]

My fiancé is in a group project that is studying masochism. For their presentation, the group would like to include short clips from a few movies that show such behavior. I'm not a film buff, so I'm having a hard time helping her come up with examples. So far, we've only come up with three: Secretary (for obvious reasons), The Cell (for the scene where the psycho-evil-dude suspends himself on hooks) and Elizabeth (for the quick scene of the Catholic priest mortifying his flesh). Any and all recommendations are welcome, even if the films show some of the behavior covered above.

[There's one small caveat, the films need to be available on DVD so they can play the clips on a computer.]
posted by hobbes103 to Media & Arts (43 answers total)
 
Clockwork Orange has some mixed in between all the sadism.
and A Man Called Horse
posted by amberglow at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2005


There's always Nine 1/2 Weeks (pornography is in the eye of the beholder, after all). Does hot wax on a bare chest count? Bully. I think there's some adolescent self-cutting in Thirteen.
posted by goatdog at 3:09 PM on January 23, 2005


David Cronenberg's Crash was the first thing that came to mind. Hell, for that matter, James Spader's entire career qualifies.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:10 PM on January 23, 2005


In My Skin and The Piano Teacher immediately come to mind.
posted by amandaudoff at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2005


Cronenburg's movie of JG Ballard's Crash, though sometimes bordering on pornographic has some notable masochistic characters, as does David Lynch's Blue Velvet. There is also, of course, the Passion of the Christ. Wikipedia has a few more.
posted by jessamyn at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2005


Salo would be the definitive work.
posted by Gyan at 3:22 PM on January 23, 2005


In American History X when Ed Norton's character confronts the would be robbers early in the movie.

Joe Pesci throughout Goodfellas.

Ving Rhames playing catcher in Pulp Fiction.

The method of disposal used in Fargo.

Several instances in Frailty.

The dad trying to buy 'I Just Called to Say I Love You' for his daughter in High Fidelity. I'm just sayin'.

The Chrisopher Walken-Dennis Hopper scene in True Romance. One of the most riveting scenes in cinema.

Another can't-look-away scene is the sauna confession in Your Friends and Neighbors.
posted by geekyguy at 3:23 PM on January 23, 2005


Blue Velvet is a fantastic example.

If you have a really REALLY strong stomach, there's a scene in Ichi The Killer where he cuts his own tongue in half. Which isn't pornographic so much as really really hard to watch.
posted by SoftRain at 3:23 PM on January 23, 2005


Not to nitpick, especially as I haven't seen Passion of the Christ, but... wouldn't receiving (a) a state punishment of a crime and (b) taking suffering for someone else qualify as something else other than masochism? Put another way, would Sydney Carton, for example, also qualify as a masochist?

It seems like there's a distinction here. Or maybe I just don't have a broad taxonomy of masochism here.
posted by weston at 3:24 PM on January 23, 2005


Charlotte Rampling as Lucia in The Night Porter.
posted by scody at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2005


These are all self-mutilation scenes:

Fight Club has a perhaps inappropriate scene of our hero beating himself up to quit his job.

The Minus Man, a really fine, lesser known movie with Owen Williams in a non-comic role (!), has a possibly more appropriate scene of Owen's landlord beating himself up. I guess you'll have to watch the movie to find the scene, but that's a price you'll be happy to pay.

Videodrome (again with the Cronenberg!) has a scene of Debbie Harry burning herself with a cigarette in order to get James Woods to stop patronizing her. It's her last scene in the old flesh.
posted by Aknaton at 3:30 PM on January 23, 2005


weston - If I recall correctly in The Passion some of those giving the punishment were shown to be enjoying it so if the clips were shown from that angle I think it would qualify. I think the loose definition here, (although I suspect that hobbes103's fiance will be discussing just this), is pleasure gained by giving or seeing others in pain.
posted by geekyguy at 3:33 PM on January 23, 2005


geekyguy: No, that's sadism. Which explains why all your examples above are wrong.
posted by bingo at 3:36 PM on January 23, 2005


pleasure gained by giving or seeing others in pain.

That would be sadism, rather than masochism, wouldn't it?
posted by redfoxtail at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2005


ahh! Sorry!
Pulp Fiction and Your Friends and Neighbors still qualify though. Um, right?
posted by geekyguy at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2005


Belle de Jour is the first thing that springs to mind. The Night Porter, as scody said, is a good one also.

In terms of documentary work, there's always the great, if almost unwatchable at points Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist, all about this man.
posted by Len at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2005


charlotte rampling is quite hot, and scody is quite right. portiere di notte is one of the best films ever.
posted by dorian at 3:49 PM on January 23, 2005


also, cube/cube2: hypercube/forever-kniggit are worthy examples.
posted by dorian at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2005


The nearly impossible to find Mike Leigh's Naked
posted by pieoverdone at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2005


Maybe it's just me, but I think Gabriel Byrne's character in Miller's Crossing is a masochist on some level. There's a fine line between suffering nobly for love and putting yourself in situations where you know you're going to suffer and enjoying it on some level. I guess it's the difference between being christlike and having a Christ complex.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:03 PM on January 23, 2005


Does it have to be dramatic? There's the classic Steve Martin-Bill Murray dentist scene in Little Shop Of Horrors.
posted by boaz at 4:06 PM on January 23, 2005


Dirty Harry.
posted by Wet Spot at 4:07 PM on January 23, 2005


Pulp Fiction and Your Friends and Neighbors still qualify though. Um, right?

Not the scenes you mentioned, which are both rapes.
posted by bingo at 4:14 PM on January 23, 2005


Poltergeist
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 PM on January 23, 2005


The blonde guy in Payback pays Lucy Liu's character to beat the hell out of him.
posted by agropyron at 4:22 PM on January 23, 2005


"Now Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know there's nothing sadistic in my actions, maybe towards those other jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, this moment, this me at my most masochistic."
posted by brevator at 4:30 PM on January 23, 2005


SALO is indeed the definitive text. SICK would be the other one.

You should also look into Nagisa Oshima's IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES, and I remember a (very brief) scene of self-flagellation from THE NAME OF THE ROSE.

Do the head-smacking monks in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL count? 'Cause they oughta.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:04 PM on January 23, 2005


There was that guy from *M*A*S*H* -- Colonel Flagg -- who was the total masochist and used to claim that he was getting injured in the war. I think Hawkeye watched him pull down an x-ray machine on his broken arm in one episode. The one where he beats himself is called White Gold. It was my first experience with the word masochism and I felt bad for my poor Mom who had to sort of explain it to me.
Thieves try to steal penicillin from the supply tent and one of them, named Perkins, is capture. Colonel Flagg arrives to question him and unsuccessfully tries to get custody of him from Henry. Once alone with Perkins, Flagg frees him and proceeds to beat himself, later blaming it on Perkins.
posted by jessamyn at 5:09 PM on January 23, 2005


Darnit, Owen Wilson was in The Minus Man. Oops.
Holy Grail is an awesome suggestion.

http://www.imdb.com/List?keywords=masochist
suggests several already mentioned, along with a "Passion" not of the Christ.
posted by Aknaton at 6:02 PM on January 23, 2005


I seem to recall that The General's Daughter has a masochistic character, and includes a few scenes of such behavior (it also has a sex dungeon!) I don't know why this was the first film that came to mind but hey, if it helps...
posted by baphomet at 6:49 PM on January 23, 2005


Kate Winslet's character in "Quills" objectifies masochism quite well, I think.
posted by vers at 7:07 PM on January 23, 2005


Tuesday Weld's character in Once Upon a Time in America

Maybe it's just me, but I think Gabriel Byrne's character in Miller's Crossing is a masochist on some level. There's a fine line between suffering nobly for love and putting yourself in situations where you know you're going to suffer and enjoying it on some level. I guess it's the difference between being christlike and having a Christ complex.

Well, every character in the movie says, "Jesus, Tom," so maybe you're on to something.

posted by kirkaracha at 7:11 PM on January 23, 2005


In Rising Sun, one of the characters likes to be asphyxiated during sex.
posted by deborah at 7:16 PM on January 23, 2005


Watching Cliffhanger is a personal exercise in self-abuse...

Also, it seems to me that bits of Gibson's Passion of... might be a little masochistic, in that the hero didn't use his superpowers to avoid it all.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:38 PM on January 23, 2005


Leaving Las Vegas and Last Exit to Brooklyn both have gang-rape scenes that are particularly hard to watch.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:16 PM on January 23, 2005


No one mentioned Exit to Eden? While, overall, it's a pretty lame ass movie, it does have one of the more realistic masochism scenes I've found in a fictional movie; the little boy goading the maid into spanking him. And I mean "realistic" in the sense that it portrays convincingly the motives and psychology of a sexual masochist. Many of of the other movies or scenes listed in this thread (including many of the ones I'm going to list below) are either examples of non-sexual masochism (about which I know damn little and which doesn't seem to have anything, apart from the endorphin high, in common with the type of masochism I practice) or are totally unrealistic and simply wrong.

So anyway, there's Cat People. It has a bedroom bondage scene that made quite an impression on me as a kid. (Yes. As a kid. My neighbors had cable. Don't tell my parents.) With regards to Pulp Fiction: don't forget the discussion about piercing and how it has to be done with a needle. Then, note the look on Jodi's face when Vince is about to slam the needle into Mia's chest; This chick is a masochist and a half, take my word for it. There's the scene in Happiness where the woman decides to let the supposed rapist into her apartment. There's some rough play between Hannibal Lecter and the rival psychopath in Hannibal. Welcome to the Dollhouse; a lowlife bully threatens to "rape" the lead character, a young girl. It's been a while since I watched it, but I believe she eventually decides to let him do it. (He doesn't, though). Oh, and yet another rape-with-permission in The Last Seduction. Heathers has the scene where Veronica (Winona Ryder) intentionally burns herself with the car cigarette lighter.

Any time a kidnapee identifies/bonds with their abductor - which has happened in too many movies to name - I think this qualifies as low level masochism. Also, Any scenes of fraternity or military hazing might well qualify. School Daze leaps immediately to mind, but I never sat down and watched the whole thing, so I can't really vouch for it.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something incredibly obvious.
posted by Clay201 at 2:15 AM on January 24, 2005


There's some self-flagellation in Name of the Rose.
posted by biffa at 2:20 AM on January 24, 2005


I totally forgot the legendary tatoo scene in Foxfire. Shame on me.
posted by Clay201 at 5:34 AM on January 24, 2005


I second the nomination for Ichi the Killer. Not just for the tongue-cutting scene; masochism is the main character's primary motivation throughout the film. Hard to watch, yes, but if you're sufficiently twisted it's a lot of fun, along with most of Takashi Miike's works.
posted by squidlarkin at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2005


There is a lot of self-injuring cutting in "Thirteen." The one girl uses nail scissors to make gashes on her lower forearm.
posted by cass at 9:35 AM on January 24, 2005


Mel Gibson's movies could be considered part of a masochism-auteur oeuvre.

I'm surprised no one has brought up Hellraiser.

Or Saddam Hussein in South Park.
posted by mkultra at 10:53 AM on January 24, 2005


The irony of masochism in Gibson's PotC is that a mostly Christian audience is watching the movie to celebrate in the protagonist's torture, not that the fictional characters in it are portrayed perpetrating the violence.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:47 AM on January 24, 2005


The Chrisopher Walken-Dennis Hopper scene in True Romance. One of the most riveting scenes in cinema.

I agree it's a great scene, but I fail to see the masochism. Since Hopper realizes he's going to die and decides he's going to insult Walken's character rather than give up his son, seems more like stoicism to me.
posted by jonmc at 12:35 PM on January 24, 2005


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