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Elizabeth Lee Miller,
Inmates in a French prison are attempting to fulfill their sexual and emotional needs under the confines of their individual cells. Two inmates in particular, who are in adjacent cells, try to make that connection to the other, both physical and emotional, in whatever way they can. In their current attempt to do so, they are so caught up in the fulfillment they receive of that connection that they fail to notice that a voyeuristic guard has been watching them through the small peep holes in their otherwise solid cell doors. The guard was tipped to the activity by one of the two men trying to pass a bouquet of wild flowers to the other via their barred cell windows. The guard confronts one of the inmates. Although their encounter is primarily violently physical, each man copes with the situation by fantasizing about what is truly in his heart. Written by
This film by Jean Genet is a very symbolic, surrealistic, and depressing film, presenting, through a series of disturbing and highly erotic images, upsetting metaphors for our desperate human need for love and union with another, and the barriers to fulfillment.
Because Jean Genet's own sensibilities were homosexual, all the characters in the film are male, and the eroticism is more accessible to men who either share his tastes: for such men, many scenes of the film can be very arousing. For others, the film will probably open up a window into the experience, and for still others, many scenes may provoke disgust and revulsion. Again, because of Genet's own tastes, there is an element of sado-masochism mixed into the eroticism: indeed, all the characters but one are oppressed prisoners, literally in "bondage." However, aside from the unusual sensuousness of the film, and the surprising explicitness, the film is full of unforgettably great imagery, honest and deep emotion, and enormous poetic beauty. It is a very slow-moving, dark, oppressive film, and should only be viewed when the viewer is prepared for a contemplative, surrealistic journey; in spite of its short length (about 25 minutes), it is a very compact film, and can feel quite draining, emotionally.
It is a little gem, and I regard it as one of the "essentials" of film.
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