Eye For Film >> Movies >> Pink Flamingos (1972) Film Review
Reviewed by: Chris
This is the movie that established John Waters' name as a master of camp, queer, trash aesthetic.
The main character is Divine 'Babs Johnson' (played by transvestite Divine). She joyously styles herself as a goddess of filth - the 'filth' being more to do with flouting conventional mores than any lack of hygiene - and has retreated from the limelight to a caravan, where she lives with her pal Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce), her son (Danny Mills) and her mother (Edith Massey). Divine's mum spends most of her time in a playpen and is obsessed with eggs.
But the title of 'filthiest person alive' is contested by arch-rivals, the Marbles (David Lochary and Mink Stole). The Marbles kidnap hapless women and lock them in the basement to be impregnated by their servant. When babies are born, the Marbles sell them to lesbian mothers. Other sidelines include pornography and selling heroin to young school children. And the Marbles are miserable, nasty people.
At the end of the film, and after the triumph of good filth over bad, a final scene 'proves' Divine is not only the 'filthiest person alive' but 'the filthiest actress alive'. It is this scene that has caused most outrage. It involves Divine ingesting something a poodle has had the day before and just got rid of. The scene is still subject to censorship many years later in the UK. John Waters quips about it in his filmed solo show This Filthy World, pointing out that he doesn't believe people are going to be so corrupted by watching it that they are likely to copy it.
This, of course, raises all sorts of questions about his stated objective to shock and to entertain. There is no suggestion that makes the characters realistic. They are entertainment. So what are the limits of entertainment? Are any minorities offended? No. The idea that it could corrupt or deprave is easily dismissed. And the film is uproariously funny and entertaining. People who find it offensive might consider asking themselves again why that is so. There are many more truly offensive films - films that do all the terrible things just mentioned. But Pink Flamingos is pure silliness, executed with an original and very skilful hand.
It remains a classic against which many other films, that borrow milder elements, can only be measured.Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2007