It seems that playing 13 different characters in one film wasn’t challenging enough for Cate Blanchett, she’s now taken up the role of an orgasming spider in RED, a short film by artist-turned-filmmaker Del Kathryn Barton about savage female power.
The 15-minute film sees Blanchett play a female Red Back Spider – a species of arachnid native to her home country of Australia – alongside actor Alex Russell and Sydney Dance Company’s Charmene Yap. An incredibly visceral film that took three years to make, RED is inspired by the spider’s mating ritual – whereby the female cannibalises the male spider after copulation.
Speaking about her choice of casting, Barton described Blanchett’s “immense power” as a driving factor for the decision. Telling ABC News, “With someone like Cate Blanchett I was really actually determined to under-direct her. You give her the hooks and honestly what she gave to the performances that day, I could have never have asked that of her, she was incredibly generous in that way.”
The film intercuts Blanchett and Russell with real life and close-up footage of the Red Back mating before devouring its male prey. Barton said, “The female redback spider is such an extraordinarily beautiful creature, she looks like a warrior in this black armour and a streak of red, it's so fierce and sexy and scary all at once.”
This isn’t Barton’s first foray into such a subject, her fascination with fertility, sex, and the psychology of relationships have been pillars in her two decade career. Speaking of her influences, she told Dumbo Featherin 2012, “I see a sexual energy as being very close to a life- giving energy, so I think that the iconography often stems from that also... I do find sex very creatively inspiring, and I always have, and I do… but I think a lot of artists would feel the same.”
RED is playing at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide until 30 April