Port and a “casual woman” (Amina Annabi) who just “loved” him one time, but it seems like it was more than how Kit* loved Port

Port, the main character of the Bertolucci’s film, meets by chance the local Arabic prostitute. Result was totally unexpected and shocking for Port, the intellectual American (John Malkovich) married to a beautiful and no less intellectual woman (Debra Winger).

During intercourse, Port, an experienced and a very thoughtful person struck with love and loses his coordinates. And he could never forget this woman’s facial expression, gaze, looks and lips, and her breasts. Her compassionate gaze told him about the earth’s sky and sky’s earth.

After love that cannot be, Port just wanted to sleep on her breasts, on her with closed eyes, just to rest, as if, he had been permanently awake.

Kit and Port (Wife and Husband)

Port dreamed about Love – not only about tenderness, not only about care, not only about togetherness, not only about helping Kit with her career success – he cared about them together, about her with him and him with her. He loved being together, living together, being Port and Kit, Kit and Port. To melt together, to be one body and one soul. And he knew that Kit loves him and he loves her. But with a common life and, yes, mutual care, something became… dry? And, may be, strangely cool? Or, may be, when everything was ok, it was then, may be, too ok?

Kit and Port understood that without irrational, bodily, passionate togetherness even touching can be… empty. For this reason Port took Kit away from US and sentimentally started to talk about the Sheltering Sky (his own invention) and, as we see, in a vast unlimited open space on sand without a single person around, just the two of them together and the sand.

They touch each other – and sand touches them. They felt each other – Kit, Port and sand, and sky… But…

Life in New-York made personal intimacy for Port and Kit impossible. It was the reason Port persuaded Kit to go to Africa under what he called her “The Sheltering Sky”. He tried again and again to recover what they had lost, but… as always they were close friends, intimate talkers, except… of course, it was possible to use some manual efforts, but somehow there was no spontaneity. The spouses continued to feel love for one another, but their previous togetherness, when intimacy was realized by itself, as if talked simultaneously with one another – was not there anymore.

Here, we see Port has come to understand that the unity of soul and sexuality, of intuitive connection of body and feeling of belonging to one another is not “locking” together. Kit was caressing Port as always, but how to understand that the two bodies’ intimate contact couldn’t be turned on.

Port and Kit continue to suffer. But they were always very smart together – they always discussed every issue, and they were very happy being strong polemists and having their own individual views and were prone to disagree with one another. They helped each other in their relationship many times with their understandings and were very happy. But the problem between them when their personalities didn’t have the effective rapport of mutuality – when the intellectual (or, let say, mental) part of their souls were not in tune, made them alien to one another. The physical and mental parts of their unity lost its common identity. Strictly speaking, many Americans today establish normal bonds based on good material life together – commonality of their material conditions, having agreeable reciprocity, similarity of habits, good mutual adaptability, but spontaneous sexuality as “blind mutuality” is not organic part of it. Conditions of successfully living an everyday life together became less and less compatible because living together and living as one person are separate phenomena!

Intimacy of the conditions of life and intimacy of togetherness are separate things. Only if two souls are felt as one, not two, even in spite of conflicts, even when two passions are united in two even different feelings, only then love is one, and body trembles together with soul. Many people cannot live together for very long as a married couple. People’s very togetherness differ and they start to compete with one another, become envious as two living partners. Kit long ago lost not only her love, but also her interest in Port. But it doesn’t mean that she became indifferent to him. She just became lazy for passion. She started to think of herself as smarter and more talented than Port. In such environment love cannot be turned on. When people are occupied with personal career and are disappointed with their achievements they like to have emotional rewards sometimes in the form of amorous dedication to their partners.

*The name Kit can be a metaphor of the famous giant creature who started to exhaust and eventually betray her husband and as a result of a tormenting life lesson.