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Gay love is passionate fire in us against the whole world
on 2 July 2014
Young he was then and Shakespeare's Sonnets was an easy subject, even in their homosexual reading. Many sonnets are absolutely ambiguous as for the sexual orientation and it is easy to make them lean left or right.
The whole objective is to illustrate sonnets that are pure words and music. Two main characters are walking around or through, up and down, a desolate purely mineral landscape in which we only have rocks, fumes and various smokes coming out of caves. It is dirty, dusty, black and white and the two boys are dressed in some kind of formal pants and coats.
The film is the impossible story of the meeting of the two boys who desire a male contact and can't have it or have to cross all kinds of obstacles and hostility to little by little getting close to it. The first distant contact will be when they reach some ocean or sea and one is swimming. That swimming becomes extremely sensual and sexual because the second is observing and projecting himself into the water to have that liquid contact with the body he desires. In fact the director is playing with our own senses and he knows that we are voyeurs in our deepest dimension and to see someone swimming is more erotic than to see the same one naked because of the water into which the voyeur is projecting himself and hence achieving full, total intimate contact with the desired person.
Finally their desires erupt into a physical fight, naked torso against naked torso and it is this fight that turns into a love scene. They have finally found each other. They can hug each other, embrace each other, mutually caress their bodies, sleep and rest together, be two in one and one in two. Shakespeare is just punctuating the story with his sonnets.
But it is a film. So how does Derek Jarman produce the visualization of this "fight" for love in a hostile world and with a hostility that has been so deeply engraved in each man in this world that all other men are enemies that contact becomes impossible, unthinkable and yet if the film only shows that contact being built little by little, we could wonder if there is anything else in a love desire or a love need. The film does not show any other attraction but this sexual appeal.
It is true Derek Jarman shows it with great brilliance. The black and white film is perfect to show the somber world in which we are living, the somber thoughts and impulses we may be developing, and the somber reality of rejection or brutality. At times some very short color sequences are projected into our vision, essentially with flowers and they seem to represent the few moments when some satisfaction, some pleasure becomes possible. That will lead me to interpreting the use of color for the fire that assaults one or the other character from time to time as being the fire of desire, not something against which you have to fight but something that may bring you pleasure and satisfaction, and yet it burns because in this world that sort of pleasure is banned and hence it has to burn somewhere.
Actually the film has aged because the world has changed and this systematic hostility and impossibility is no longer true. It has in fact become very easy today to satisfy that desire of gay love, and that's just the point. The film does not show love but sex exclusively. Today when sex is no longer forbidden, censored, repressed, we can finally step over the hormonal dimension of human contact and develop the mental, spiritual and intellectual side of love, love seen as the contact and exchanges between two minds and not only two hormone-driven bodies. In fact physical desire becomes all the more intense when it is considered because it no longer is the only way to express one's love. Higher? Lower? It does not work like that. They are different and not at different planes. They do not have to be compared or connected.
Shakespeare says: "Sweet things turn sour," implying that beauty is always followed by death and the loss of that beauty, sour is everything that cannot last forever. But today we are not obliged to only consider the physical beauty of a person, a beauty that will pass away with age, but we can consider the everlasting or at least long-lasting mental beauty of a person and then love is eternal because it is no longer tied up to the sole body, the sole hormonal desire of our endocrine glands.
That makes the film very sad, sad that the world used to be like that . . . for us, though it still is like that in many countries in this world. We do not need to fight any more to put our hands on the arms or shoulders of our men brothers.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU