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Sebastiane - Film Review

Home > Sydney > Cinema | Movie Reviews | Gay & Lesbian
by Alexander Dermer (subscribe)
Alex is a freelance writer, retail worker, short film maker, an avid lover of The Arts and always willing to explore.
Published June 26th 2012
"The Gone With The Wind of homo erotic fantasies"
The first thing that caught my eye as I dove blindly into the ex rental bargain bin at Blockbuster video, and with the front cover of a naked man being crucified, how could I go wrong? Now Homo Erotica is not usually one of my most visited genres, but as my partner and I are constantly competing with each other in getting the other person movies that dwell miles out of the mainstream. This one was a gem.

What I originally expected from my viewing of Sebastiane was a weird pretentious art house film attempting to cover itself artistically for the sake of explicit sex. This initial idea of what I was about to watch had easily attracted my attention nonetheless as a curiosity call. However as soon as those end titles had begun to play, I realized I had experienced a whole lot more; and that the greatness of Paul Humphries and Derek Jarman's Sebastiane, was something that I had largely underestimated. That being said I do wonder what artistic in depth analysis you could get from the opening scene of dancing men in g-strings running around with giant cylinder type objects between their- well, you get the picture.

Sebastiane follows the life of Saint Sebastian during 300 A.D in Rome. We see Sebastian as he is driven out to a removed almost desert like area entirely consisting of men. A group of men who perhaps due to the lack of women, begin to participate in passionate homosexual acts to feed their own desires. All the while Sebastian is constantly tortured and degraded by the group due to his strong belief in Christianity.

Although not terribly strong in the way of a storyline and character development, in what Sebastaine delivers to its audience far surpasses the need for the style of generic story telling. What mainly carries the film through it's ninety minute running time is it's awe inspiring scenery, and some of the most astoundingly beautiful cinematography I have ever witnessed. Ironically the two best uses of the film's cinematography is the passionate portrayal of love and the other of death; one of the many fantastic examples of contrast throughout the entire feature. Other great aspects of Sebastaine include it's use of dialogue in authentic Vulgar Latin, as well it's stunningly well mixed overtones of sex, politics and religion.

Despite it's occasionally long winded moments and dragged out pacing, Sebastiane is a fine example of historical art house cinema done right. The writing, directing and acting is a few steps far from perfect, but seeing as this is the first film by Derek Jarman and Paul Humphries; this is certainly an impressive feat. For those who enjoy Roman history, homoerotic art house, or simply feel adventurous in their movie selection, this is one not to be missed.


OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) rating:
R18 Medium Level Violence, Medium Level Sex Scenes, Occasional Coarse Language, Adult Themes.

You can purchase the DVD or pre order the BLU RAY online at Amazon
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Why? Because you have to see it at least once
Where: Hopefully soon in your DVD player
Cost: Depending where you buy it
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