Monday, November 28, 2011

SEBASTIANE (Derek Jarman) (1976)

Derek Jarman's 'Sebastiane' is a momentous painting which is simply brushed on film rather than canvas. This is a master work and should be in any serious film buff's cabinet. (I should very much like to see it running continuously upon a smooth stone wall of a monumental pillared vestibule - perhaps like the Four Seasons in New York. It's visual beauty should be constantly on view.

Not one element could be added or deleted. If I may continue the painting analogy, each stroke, whether finished or raw melds this work into a composition which I think is flawless. The men are beautiful, but in a tangible human manner. The settings, whether Diocletian's startling lurid palace or the rough bare terrain of Sardinia evoke both pagan and Christian motifs flawlessly. Good and evil (and all shades between) found in both places; the irony of the world as it is and has always been.

The homoerotic nature of the film is visceral, candid rather than overtly condescending - it might well be set in modern Iraq with 21st century troops. I felt each character's longings, whether for the god of carnal flesh or that of human love and companionship or a spiritual and other worldly deity. The recognition that each of these forms of Eros may intertwine and meld is genius. It is Everyman. It is a scrupulous portrait of the easily duplicitous qualities of beauty, deceit, brutality and even truth. Powerful stuff.

Language: Latin with English Hardcoded Subtitles

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