When Meg, Mariah and I started talking about Bound, we paid close attention to the depiction of hands throughout the film. Originally we thought hands were agents of desire and conversely, agents of destruction and that this was also very gendered. The sensuous touches applied to reciprocal touches between Corky and Violet, whereas, the violent hand (both forceful touches and use of guns) was reserved for Caesar, except until the very end. Even when Caesar thought his touches were affectionate, we immediately saw them as rough and unreciprocated. In this way, hands are very telling of our true natures, even if unbeknownst to us. The more we spoke about hands, the more we began to think of hands as independently thinking and acting organisms—with their own agency and agenda.
Hands are often associated with specific skill sets, talents, and therefore vocations–almost as if the expertise of our hands (something natural, perhaps out of our control) dictates our choice, our careers, and our destinies. In Bound Violet and Corky want to escape from their situations—they are bound by these lives they’ve fallen into or chosen, because of their talents, because of what they’re good at and this brings us back to hands.
I think particularly of the scene below:
Violet: All my life, everyone has been telling me that when I have sex, I’m not really having sex. Not real sex. But they’re wrong. I know what is and isn’t sex and what you heard was definitely not sex.
Corky: What was it then?
Violet: You made certain choices in your life that you paid for. You said you made them because you were good at something and it was easy. Do you think you’re the only one that’s good at something?
Violet: We make our own choices and we pay our own prices. I think we’re more alike than you want to admit.
This scene occurs after Corky hears Violet having sex next door. Violet argues that the sex is work. She argues she and Corky are both paying for the choices they’ve made, which both have made, because they pursued what they were good at.
When doing reading for another class, I came across a quote from the artist Rodin’s former secretary, Austrian poet Rainer Marie Rilke:
Rodin has made hands, independent, small hands which, without forming part of the body, are yet alive. Hands rising upright, angry and irritated, hands whose five bristling fingers seem to bark like the five throats of Cerberus. Hands in motion, sleeping hands and hands in the act of awakening; criminal hands weighted by heredity, hands that are tired and have lost all desire, lying like some sick beast crouched in a corner, knowing none can help them. But hands are a complicated organism, a delta in which much life from distance sources flows together and is poured into the great stream of action. Hands have a history of their own, they have indeed, their own civilization, their special beauty; we concede to them the right to have their own development, their own wishes, feelings, moods and favorite occupations.
I felt the Wachowskis’ treatment of hands in Bound is reminiscent of the treatment Rilke ascribes to Rodin’s many sculptures. After sharing this quote with Meg and Mariah, they too found it applied to Bound. We see many of the various hands described above in the film. My favorite, perhaps, which we did not include in our Bound essay/film is that of “criminal hands weighted by heredity.” Heredity suggests criminality (the skills that make certain criminal behavior easy) is in our nature or certain people’s natures, which reminded me of Violet’s argument that she and Corky made choices (that they now regret) “because they were good at something and it was easy.” It’s interesting to think we are bound in lives that we’ve chosen, but these choices are in some ways out of our control or easier to make, because of hands (literally or metaphorically) or whatever it is that decides what we’re good at.