In this Derek Jarman version of Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan drama, in modern costumes and settings, Plantagenet king Edward II hands the power-craving nobility the perfect excuse by ... See full summary »
From the distant 16th century, Queen Elisabeth I summons the spirit Ariel with the aid of the court's alchemist, the sage Doctor John Dee, to witness the appalling revelation of a dystopian... See full summary »
A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the ... See full summary »
Young and handsome Sergio works the night shift as a trash collector in Lisbon, Portugal. He can't force himself to connect with his pretty female co-worker Fatima, who displays an avid ... See full summary »
João Pedro Rodrigues
A nearly wordless visual narrative intercuts two main stories and a couple of minor ones. A woman, perhaps the Madonna, brings forth her baby to a crowd of intrusive paparazzi; she tries to... See full summary »
Against a plain, unchanging blue screen, a densely interwoven soundtrack of voices, sound effects and music attempt to convey a portrait of Derek Jarman's experiences with AIDS, both ... See full summary »
An unseen woman recites Shakespeare's sonnets - fourteen in all - as a man wordlessly seeks his heart's desire. The photography is stop-motion, the music is ethereal, the scenery is often ... See full summary »
300 A.D. : the Roman Sebastianus is exiled to a remote outpost populated exclusively by men. Weakened by their desires, these men turn to homosexual activities to satisfy their needs. However, Sebastianus becomes the target of lust for a homosexual centurion, but he rejects the man's advances. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
For added realism, the script was taken to a classics scholar, who translated the script's erotic language into common Latin. See more »
In the beginning, when Sebastiane is bathing, he has to hold the water bucket up over his head for the water to wash down. Later, the water is simply coming from above and he is using both hands to wash himself. See more »
Derek Jarman was, like his contemporary Peter Greenaway still is, a visual artist working in film. The usual obsessions of the movie industry didn't occupy him overmuch. Psychology, character development, narrative, plot - all those were secondary considerations, if they were considered at all. The main preoccupation was the expressive power of the the image. To those of us reared on conventional, industrial cinema, this makes Jarman's (and Greenaway's) work both refreshing and frustrating in equal measure.
SEBASTIANE is not, then, a conventional film. It would be misleading to assess it in conventional terms. At times it is jokey, revelling in its low budget and independent spirit. At other times, it is so beautiful it takes your breath away. And at other times it seems to crawl along, with dull acting beneath a luxuriously blue Sardinian sky.
Leonardo Treviglio is a stunning, intense Sebastian, a Renaissance painting come to life. As his tormentor Severus, Barney James successfully conveys frustration and bewilderment behind his icy-grey eyes. Richard Warwick (probably the best known actor, having made a mark as one of the young rebels in Lindsay Anderson's IF...) is quietly impressive as Sebastian's only friend in the outpost. A lot is required of Neil Hamilton as the gruff Maximus, which is a pity because he is unconvincing enough to be a distraction.
Personally, I think SEBASTIANE succeeds as a cinematic study of the isolation at the centre of martyrdom. It doesn't indulge in psychological speculation. It simply depicts some of the temptations, struggles, and sufferings involved. The sensuality of the lives of the other soldiers is at odds with the kind of life Sebastian wants to live. Jarman and his co-director (and editor) Paul Humfress show all this with great clarity.
However, one of the side-effects of such clarity is emotional detachment. We watch as if the film were an installation in an art gallery. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you remember that's what you're looking at. Otherwise you might emerge from SEBASTIANE thinking that it's a failure, a halfway-house between an art-film and a porn-movie. For me, though, it's pretty successful on its own terms. And because it was a pioneering piece of film-making in other ways (Latin dialogue, gay lovemaking, self-conscious anachronisms), SEBASTIANE will always have a place in cinema history.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?