Tom of Finland is one of the gay world's few authentic icons. His drawings have had an enormous influence on gay identity. Tom's ultimate leather men are known and seen everywhere. They are... See full summary »
Tom of Finland is one of the gay world's few authentic icons. His drawings have had an enormous influence on gay identity. Tom's ultimate leather men are known and seen everywhere. They are symbols of gay pride and friendship. The documentary includes some titillating 'enactments' inspired by Tom's art work. Written by
Atmospheric documentary on life of Erotic artist 'Tom of Finland'
The film gives voice to the life and creative impulse of the gay erotic artist known across the gay world as 'Tom of Finland'. Essentially an interview documentary with some very brief 'enactments' inspired by Tom's artwork, this is a long way from fetish pornography but is thought-provoking nonetheless.
Tom describes his early life in the Finnish army, in mundane jobs and, matter-of-factly, how he became inspired to put onto paper his exagerrated masculine fantasies of men in leather, uniforms and workwear.
Most of the interview is shot in the stillness of Tom's apartment/studio, with the film broken into segments centering on themes of his work: depiction of black men and women, technique, use of models and leather as his muse: "I put on a special outfit", he explains, "if I need to be inspired".
The subject is fascinating and likeable, even if the film-making is a little dry in tone. When it comes to the extremely short 'enactment' sessions, featuring shadowy, muscular figures in leather and SM play, there is none of the boldness and exuberance that the drawings, in comparison convey, even as static images.
Putting its arthouse stylistic shortcomings aside, the film is a precious document of this influential artist who died a few years after it was made. The brief commentaries from friend and critics point out just how deeply Tom's fantasies have become the primers for the post-war emergent gay subcultures of Leather/SM, with all their knock-on influence on wider cultural consciousness. While outsiders may not relate to Tom's proclivities, they will be moved by his integrity and skill in realising his fantasies.
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