1971-1980ArthouseCultDerek JarmanPaul Humfress and Derek JarmanQueer Cinema(s)United Kingdom

Paul Humfress & Derek Jarman – Sebastiane (1976)

Filmed entirely in vulgar Latin, this experimental film recounts the life of Sebastiane, a puritanical but beautiful Christian soldier in the Roman Imperial troops who is martyred when he refuses the homosexual advances of his pagan captain. When this film was released, it was the only English-made film to have required English subtitles, and it is an early film by the noted experimental and outspokenly homosexual director Derek Jarman, who died in 1994.

Reviewed by Casey Broadwater:
An art-house sword ‘n’ sandal movie? A cinematic hagiography? A soft-core thrill? An examination of the tensions—and similarities—between the rapture of the spirit and the lust of the flesh? Sebastiane is all of the above and more. The film was the first narrative feature from the late English director, prolific diarist, and gay rights activist Derek Jarman—who co-wrote and directed the film with Paul Humfress—and it immediately announced him as a filmmaker of unique vision and intent. Not only is Sebastiane one of the most frank and unhindered depictions of homosexuality in 1970s cinema—it faced controversy for its nudity and sensuality—but it’s also a remarkable portrayal of faith and the first film with dialogue recorded entirely in Latin. Unless you’ve been classically educated, you’ll want to make sure the subtitles are turned on.

The subject of the film is Saint Sebastian, an early Christian martyr and soldier whom the Roman emperor Diocletian had executed in AD 288 for the crime of converting officials to the then-minority faith. A popular subject of paintings in the Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance, Sebastian is usually depicted tied to a tree and shot with multiple arrows. It’s debatable whether or not these works of art were originally intended to be homoerotic, but they unquestionably seem that way now, with the saint-to-be nearly naked, his chest straining forward, his arms pinned back or held over his head BDSM-style, his flesh punctured and penetrated. He’s that rare religious figure who’s also become a gay icon.

1.72GB | 1 h 25 min | 792×576 | mkv



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