Watching Oliver!'s sweet-faced Mark Lester swear undying love to 12-year-old girlfriend Tracy Hyde, reasoning, "I've loved you for a week already," is saccharine enough to induce a diabetic coma. Watching the scene just after seeing heavy-lidded Serge Gainsbourg seduce a supposedly prepubescent Jane Birkin after running into her bicycle with his Rolls-Royce — a spoonful of perversion helps the sugar go down.
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Both objets d'amour are named Melody, as are the 1971 films in which they appear. The former is a sentimental depiction of young love written by Alan Parker, built around seven early Bee Gees tunes. The latter is a 28-minute video accompaniment to Gainsbourg's concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson. Both will screen Wednesday night in conjunction with Anthony Campuzano's "Touch Sensitive" exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, after which Meg Baird will perform a set of her ethereal folk, touched — as are the two films — by both sweetness and darkness.
Both films offer an almost first-person perspective on their respective affairs. David Puttnam's Melody takes a child's-eye view of the world in a way that Campuzano likens to Peanuts cartoons, almost sidelining the adults and lowering the camera to a kid's level. (Parker would take the idea even further with Bugsy Malone.) Jean-Christophe Averty's video for Gainsbourg's story gets inside the pedophile's mind, viewing his seduction as a psychedelic tour through art history.
Campuzano chose Puttnam's Melody for his event mainly to complement his friend Baird's performance. But when ICA curatorial assistant Kate Kraczon showed him the Gainsbourg video, the ties between the two seemed to reflect his work in a more direct way than either film alone.
"The process of getting into these movies and following things that you like reveal connections to other things," Campuzano says. "I like to follow ideas and their random avenues, loosely tying together strands of thought, until eventually I get a coherent picture. I discovered both Melodys in different ways and then became fascinated with connecting the dots between them. So this doesn't echo a specific work in the show, but it echoes the way I go about making my work."
Melody, Melody and Meg | Wed., Feb. 18, Gainsbourg Melody screening/reception/Campuzano tour, 6:30 p.m., free, ICA, 118 S. 36th St., 215-898-7108, icaphila.org
Puttnam Melody screening/Meg Baird performance | 8 p.m., free, International House, 3701 Chestnut St., 215-387-5125, ihousephilly.org