Women, or Wax? Eros, Thanatos, and Sculpture in Cinema

  • Vito Adriaensens
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series (GSX)


This chapter focuses on the erotic and deadly collisions between sculpture and bodies on screen, guided by the history of transformative and performative encounters between artists and anatomists from the birth of the La Specola Venuses to Madame Tussauds, with Ovid’s myth of Pygmalion and Galatea piercing the history of these encounters like a bloody thread. We will single out a universe in which sculptors are equated with surgeons, and in which the mutability of the body is an overture to love and death. This trope will be traced from Georges Méliès’s oeuvre to wax museum films such as Michael Curtiz’s 1933 Mystery of the Wax Museum, all the way to Yasuzô Masumura’s Môjû (Blind Beast; 1969) and Jennifer Lynch’s Boxing Helena (1993).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vito Adriaensens
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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