Face to Face: Derek Jarman in conversation with Jeremy Isaacs. This interview, which is part of the Art and Craft of Movie making Season was originally broadcast by the BBC on 15 March 1993, less than one year before the death of Derek Jarman.
An intriguing play on the male psyche - juxtaposing multiple themes: unrequited love; social acceptance of sexual thought; the demands of society upon the individual; sexual desire in an exlusively male environment; and the requirements imposed by religion values.
Jarman explores the ancient Roman Garrison philosophy - that to love ones fellow man (in the most intimate way) leads to a bonding which instills a greater will to fight to the death in order to protect ones comrade in arms
Sebastian, a catholic, has difficulty in forming the social and sexual bonds defined by this 'garrison philosophy' as a result of his devout relgious beliefs. His commanding officer finds Sebastian intriguing, captivating, alluring. Sebastian's reluctance to respond to his superior's desires only makes him more desirable. There is a definate affection between the two, but the demands of Sebastians religion and the social standing of both men place their attaraction above the common place male bonding which surrounds them. Ultimately their relationship is doomed, as the society of which they are a part are threatened by, and so condemns, the 'true' love to which they each aspire
"Sebastian" contains possibly THE most classic "homo-erotic" playfight. This, for me as a young heterosexual man, was thrilling, arousing and to some degree disturbing. I left this film questioning many aspects of my own sexual orientation, and at the same time allowed me to affirm many of the feelings that I had. There is little doubt, that watching this film will answer, no confirm, many questions one may have about their own sexuality
A fantastic film, although perhaps lengthy - it is filled with some memorable cinematography. Jarmen works well on close-ups and symbolic imagery. His style captures the many and varied emotions of the protagonists, allowing the viewer to fill in many of the 'moments' with their own perceptions, experiences and expectations.
Best advice is to watch the film alone, with a BIG bag of Dorito's, salsa dip needed and maybe a bottle or two of a good red.
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