As with the imagery and the tone of Flash Gordon, the eroticism can be traced back to Raymond’s 1930s comic strips, in which women in skimpy harem underwear and men in tiny shorts are chained up and whipped on a regular basis. “I spoke to my American friends about Flash Gordon,” explains Hodges, “and they said that a lot of their sexual fantasies came from the comic strip. They loved all those pictures of the voluptuous Princess Aura. I took that as a green light to run it at two levels, with the action angle for the younger audience, and the sexual stuff for the older audience.”
That decision may have scuppered the film’s box office prospects in conservative parts of the US. And, partly as a result of its under-performance, the sequel De Laurentiis originally talked to Hodges about was never made. But, along with its fabulous retro design, its adrenaline-pumping rock operatics, and its signature mix of earnest grandeur and winking humour, the sex in Flash Gordon helped to ensure its eventual cult status. And it’s certainly steamier than Star Wars. “I regard them as completely different,” says Hodges. “Star Wars is so bland beside the colours of Flash Gordon, I don’t see any connection between them at all.”
The Flash Gordon 40th anniversary restoration collector’s edition DVD is released by StudioCanal on 10 August. Flash Gordon in 4k is in UK cinemas now, restored by StudioCanal.
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