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Darling, Do You Love Me? (1968)


Main image of Darling, Do You Love Me? (1968)
35mm, black and white, 3 mins
A film byMartin Sharp
 Bob Whitaker
Production CompanyBFI Production Board
Written byMartin Sharp
PhotographyBob Whitaker

Cast: Alistair Burg (the man); Germaine Greer (the woman)

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A vampiric woman alternately cajoles, pursues and assaults a mild little man with cries of 'Darling, do you love me?'

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Two years before the publication of her emblematic feminist diatribe The Female Eunuch made her a household name, Germaine Greer starred in this darkly comic curio funded by the BFI Production Board. Gleefully sending up the misogynist cliché of the clingy girlfriend, Greer portrays a shrieking harpy whose desperation to obtain a declaration of love leads to increasingly deranged displays, as her deadpan lover (Alistair Burg) ignores her outbursts. The dialogue consists entirely of Greer's frenzied yelps of 'Darling, do you love me?', until the man expires under her throttling grasp, finally choking out "I love you" as Greer stares into the camera, satiated at last. Simultaneously funny and disturbing, the film plays with the gender stereotypes that Greer sought to destroy in her pioneering written work.

Monthly Film Bulletin's review compared the film unfavourably to Yoji Kuri's Japanese animation Ai (1962), in which a woman pursues a long-suffering man across the town, repeatedly panting the word 'ai' ('love'). The comparison is interesting: with her blanched face and shock of black hair, Greer perhaps resembles an onryo, a spirit that returns to the physical world to wreak vengeance in Japanese folklore. Darling... also references the famous shot in Ingmar Bergman's Persona (Sweden, 1966), as the faces of Greer and Burg briefly merge into one.

Like Greer, the crew members were predominantly Australian, some of them significant figures in the 1960s counterculture. Martin Sharp was a major contributor to Oz, the satirical anti-establishment magazine published both in Australia and the UK, and was later convicted on obscenity charges following the publication of one of his poems; the conviction was later overturned. Director of photography Bob Whitaker was best known for his still photography work with musicians, including the gruesome (and swiftly withdrawn) cover for The Beatles' North America-only LP Yesterday and Today, in which the band appear strewn with dismembered doll parts and slabs of raw meat.

Alex Davidson

*This film can also be viewed via the BFI's YouTube channel.

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Video Clips
Complete film (3:28)
Production stills