'A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism'

Julia Ducournau’s Raw and Bataillean Horror

  • Ursula de Leeuw Monash University
Keywords: Georges Bataille, Julia Ducournau, transgression, eroticism, cannibalism, death drive


In this article, I will put Julia Ducournau’s 2016 coming-of-age horror film Raw in dialogue with Georges Bataille’s general economic theory of transgression. The Bataillean saying ‘a kiss is the beginning of cannibalism’ is taken literally by Raw’s protagonist Justine, as she explores her sexuality while simultaneously acquiring a taste for human flesh. I will begin by mapping the interplay between the transgressions of Raw and Bataille’s general economy, moving forward to Raw’s treatment of transgression as it both converges and diverges with Bataille’s notion of sacrifice. While the film ultimately displays the pitfalls of transgression, I will conclude by evaluating how the role of eroticism in Raw illustrates the enduring importance of transgression for Bataille; as an immediate, sacred moment of inner experience in which the self luxuriates in its own death.


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