In an incredibly visceral performance, the actress channels the savage female power of a cannibalistic Red Back Spider
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 Feather in 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