Birds Do It, Bees Do It: Isabella Rossellini's 'Green Porno' Explores Insect Sex

By Helmut Merschmann

Isabella Rossellini is showing her short film "Green Porno" at this year's Berlinale. The movie, which was made for mobile phones, shows the actress dressed up as various insects doing what comes naturally.

"If I were a dragonfly," says Isabella Rossellini, "I would have compound eyes and could look up, down, back and forth at the same time. I would have a very skinny body and transparent wings." This simple statement marks the beginning of eight stories dealing with the sex lives of insects. But worse is yet to come, as these creatures usually have to pay for their casual flings -- often with their lives.

This is no obstacle for the actress and director, who plays eight different insects in her "Green Porno" short film and obviously enjoys depicting the coitus of fireflies and other insects. The eight one-minute episodes are both informative and amusing, showing plenty of interesting details on this somewhat unorthodox theme.

For example, houseflies have little time for physical love, as their lives are so short. Fireflies glide in loneliness through the night, hoping to attract a partner with their light. Snails are pretty much hermaphrodites, so whoever comes by tends to work out, while earthworms are fond of the so-called "69 position." Male honey bees seemingly have nothing to do but wait for their lucky chance. And the female praying mantis gives unsafe sex a whole new twist, as she tends to rip off her partner's head during the act of copulation.

The film has the look of puppet theater, with its sets and costumes made from material and paper. For example, Rossellini dresses up in a green tube to play the role of the dragonfly or she glues six paper eyes to her face and spins a net out of hemp to create a spider's web in which the object of her desire can be trapped.

Moreover, the short film was shot to be displayed on the tiniest of canvases: the mobile phone screen. "Green Porno" was commissioned by the Sundance Film Festival based in Salt Lake City. Rossellini, who is an actress, producer and director, watched a number of films before coming to the decision that the film should be shot like a cartoon with strongly contrasting colors. She is convinced that new technologies can be used to create "a new art form and a new way of telling stories."

It's not clear if the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini has watched mobile phone porn films, though this is a growing trend in the world of telecommunications. According to the online technology news and entertainment company Cnet, mobile phone companies make good money from pornographic content and increasingly improving picture resolutions are boosting this particular sex trend.

At the same time, the porn industry has discovered a new outlet for its product in the mobile phone display screens. According to market research institute Juniper Research, this type of pornographic content is reaping annual profits of $775 million (531 million) in Europe alone.

Rossellini's insect sex will hardly make much of a dent in this market. Her "Green Porno" is being shown as part of the "Forum Expanded" section of this year's Berlinale film festival, which includes exhibitions, performances and video programs. Three glass cabinets contain three mobile phones each, showing the insect sex. The film's production designer Jody Shapiro was inspired by terrariums when designing these display cabinets. The screens are embedded in tree trunks or in the mouth of a frog. Visitors can look through a magnifying glass to observe the sordid details more closely.

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