‘Homoerotic’ films

I thought that over the weekends, we could have a bit of fun, rather than all this seriousness. So with a bit of surfing I found a wonderful site – The Medieval Sourcebook and so I’ve included a few of their films with historical homoerotic themes for you to check out if you haven’t already- and added some of my own! Enjoy!

Fellini Satyricon (1970)
Director: Federico Fellini
Encolpio a beautiful youth, whose young lover and slave, Gitone, has been stolen from him and sold to an older man. He vows to get him back.

Ben-Hur (1959)

Director: William Wyler: Screenplay: Gore Vidal, Karl Tunberg, Christopher Fry
The story of Judah Ben-Hur and his boyhood friend Messala. Boyd was told to play the relationship as more than friendship, although Heston was not let into the secret and denys any erotic undertones to this day. But hell. That spear scene? Nah….

Sebastiane (1976)
Director: Derek Jarman – In Latin!
The early Christian martyr St. Sebastian set as a homoerotic fantasy around 303 CE.. Mostly filmed with all characters naked, and the dialogue is all in Latin. Jarman explicitly exploits the image of Sebastian as a gay icon, and although set in late antiquity is not a historical film in any useful way. It is interesting to see Latin used as a daily language, and for gay classicists the movie will have an especial appeal. It would be difficult in most institutions to show this to any other class than a history of sexuality class.

Becket (1964)
Director: Peter Glenville. Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton
Based on Jean Anouilh’s play about Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas a Becket and his English King, Henry II. Although there is no historical data to support the suggestion, Anouilh sees a homosexual relationship.

The Canterbury Tales (1971)
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Generally considered to be better than Sebastiane, but that, apparantly (not having seen either, as yet) isn’t much of a rec… “One notable homosexual scene”

The Lion in Winter (1968)
UK, Historical/Drama, 135, No rating, Color
Director: Anthony Harvey: Cast includes: Katherine Hepburn (Eleanor), Peter O’Toole (Henry II), Anthony Hopkins (Richard the Lionheart)
Richard’s relationship with Philip II is played as overtly homosexual. Was remade with Patrick Stewart, but DON’T miss this version, as it eclipses anything after it.

Edward II (1991)
UK, Drama, , 91 min, No rating, Color
Director: Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Steven Waddington, Tilda Swinton
based on the 1592 play by Christopher Marlowe about the homosexual Edward II

The Titan–Story of Michelangelo (1950)
US, Documentary/Biography, 68, No rating B&W
Director: Robert Snyder
Originally a Swiss film made in 1940, it was reedited for U.S. release by Robert Snyder, and won an Oscar as Best Documentary

Caravaggio (1986)
UK, religious, 97, No rating, Color
Director: Derek Jarman; Cast includes: Nigel Terry, Tilda Swinton, SEAN BEAN!
Story of Michelangelo Caravaggio (1571-1610)in which Jarman develops his belief that Caravaggio was homosexual. The actors use modern British slang.

Director: James Ivory
A wonderful adaptation of the book, despite having the main leads the opposite colouring than they should be. Hugh Grant’s in it, but don’t let that put you off, he actually shines in this.

Shanghai 1920/Shang Hai yi jiu er ling
Director: Po-Chih Leong Starring Jone Lone, Adrian Pasdar
Wonderful film based in Shanghai about an American boy who meets a young Chinese streetrat and they form a strong friendship. Beautifully photographed and a heart warming story.

Stage Beauty
Director: Richard Eyre. Starring Billy Crudup
Based in the 1660’s of London’s theatres – Ned Kynaston is the homosexual cross-dressing actor who has been playing female parts in plays for years, particularly Desdemona in Othello, he also has a close relationship with the Duke of Buckingham

Any others you’d like to share?

25 Responses

  1. I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but Maruice is one of my all time favorite movies.

  2. Eee! Mine too, I love it that it has an upbeat ending and sticks to the book so faithfully.

    I also love the DVD as there are a shed-load of extras on it including a ton of missing scenes including the one with the young cousin (Dicky?) who Maurice gets a crush on.

  3. Isn’t Dickie’s naked ass just lovely? I’m so miffed that his scenes got taken out of the final theatrical release. Simply miffed, I tell you.

  4. *gasp* Why isn’t “Wilde” on this excellent list? 🙂

  5. Good one, Anne – I’m hoping people will suggest lots of others, so we can have another post later in the year!

  6. Maurice is one of my all time favorite movies too! Love that movie, all three lead actors are gorgeous(and there’s some nice asses too, particularly that shower scene)

  7. How about Spartacus? That’s gotta be pretty high on the list! And then (consults list we used to run in Forbidden Fruit): Bent (Clive Owen, homosexuals in Nazi Germany, very sad), M Butterfly (John Lone as a transvestite oriental agent); and Victim (Dirk Bogarde, 1960s England).

    Great list, btw!

  8. Oh Fiona – thank you! Will add to list for a later time.

    And another one… Trapeze – very slashy.

  9. Oh – and there’s another Derek Jarman one – The Tempest, based on the Shakespeare play. Not seen it but apparently it’s a masterpiece…

  10. Ohmigod, how could I forget one of my favourite films. Another Country. The school days of a fictionalised Guy Burgess, with Rupert Everett.

    Erm.. The Naked Civil Servant, about Quentin Crisp. And does Lawrence of Arabia count?

  11. I nominate Interview with the Vampire.
    Not the best movie but lots of yaoi potential.

    *pokes Anne Cain for not remembering* Gohatto a/k/a Taboo

  12. I’ll have to watch Vampire again – I watched it years ago before I’d discovered the slashy. 🙂

    And Lawrence of Arabia certainly does count, the rape is implied, but it’s certainly there, all the same.

  13. Forgot to mention: Death in Venice. Girl, you’re ignoring your avatar!

    Kidding aside on Maurice, I do think that the Dickie scenes should’ve been kept (despite the longer film length resulting from it). Maurice’s infatuation with Dickie was a turning point in his development since that was when he first experiences physical lust.

  14. “Richard’s relationship with Philip II is played as overtly homosexual.”

    Hell, yes! Okay. Must look for The Lion in Winter.

  15. Well it’s a much newer film, but 3:10 to Yuma contains hints of slash. Basically, Ben Foster is playing Russell Crowe’s second in command, and appears to have a crush on Russ. And of course, Brokeback Mountain should be on the list.

  16. Proteus, Lilies, For a Lost Soldier, Bent, Far from Heaven, Burnt Money, Facing Windows, Gohatto and Querelle, though the last two I found almost unwatchable to be honest.

  17. Gohatto and Querelle, though the last two I found almost unwatchable to be honest.

    I think Gohatto works best for folks familiar with the real Shinsengumi although I must admit many lulz were had by a lot of us over the BAD casting choices for the main players.

    The man Kitano portrayed was actually a very hot guy.

  18. Maurice is a fantastic film. Another Country is well worth a watch, a very young Colin Firth and Rupert Everett as sixth formers.

    Sebastiane – oh, God, there’s no mistaking that it’s art house. Look, some passing sheep! I also recall being terrified when the long shot of bloke in what appeared to be a loin cloth, was actually a very hairy bloke in the nude!

  19. Forgot to mention Velvet Goldmine too, which is 1970’s set, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale.

  20. *is scared by hairy naked man*

    I will have to get hold of Another Country, I saw the play very very long ago, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the film…


  21. Pasolini was a great intellectual. Writer, Director, Poet, Journalist. Almost all his films have homosexual elements in them. “The Canterbury Tales” was part of his “historical fiction” titles: you can find also “The Decameron”, “Flower of the Arabian Nights”, “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom”. Personally my favourite by Pasolini was “Theorem” (with Terence Stamp) and “Medea” (with Maria Callas). Also very interesting was “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” setting in a wonderful Matera (where I’m just now). ciao, elisa

  22. They’re airing Brideshead Revisited on a Finnish channel right now. Of course it is a series, not a movie… But I thought it worth mentioning because it is so absolutely lovely.

  23. For documentaries, try “The Celluloid Closet,” which deals with both Hollywood’s depictions of homosexuality through the years and the problems that gay actors and actresses have had.

    Here’s a bit of trivia you might like from the Internet Movie Database:

    “The filmmakers originally planned a sequence discussing how gay historical figures were portrayed as heterosexual in films. They aborted the sequence when Richard Burton’s estate denied the rights to Alexander the Great (1956), MGM denied use of Hans Christian Andersen (1952) (fearing that the filmmakers were trying to “out” Danny Kaye) and Charlton Heston declined use of The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) (claiming that Michaelangelo was heterosexual).”

    Pity they couldn’t include that information in the film. It’s so telling.

    There’s also “Ludwig,” about Ludwig of Bavaria. Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:

    “Historical evocation of Ludwig, king of Bavaria, from his crowning in 1864 until his death in 1886, as a romantic hero. Fan of Richard Wagner, betrayed by him, in love with his cousin Elisabeth of Austria, abandoned by her, tormented by his homosexuality, he … little by little[,] slip[s] towards madness.”

    There’s also “Total Eclipse,” which IMDB describes this way:

    “The self-destructive relationship between 19th-century teenage French poet Arthur Rimbaud and his older mentor Paul Verlaine.”

    (Mind you, I haven’t seen “Ludwig” or “Total Eclipse.”I haven’t even seen “Closet” yet, though it’s on my Netflix list. I was just looking for gay historical movies.)

  24. Wow, I seem to be a little late for posting on this page but figure it’s worth a try. While I have yet to see many of these rare gems, (the reason I am here) I have seen “Total Eclipse” and “Wilde”, both are on my favourites list.
    I have the soundtrack to T.E as well and it is one of the most inspirational movies in terms of how well it captures the feel of the Victorian era. Aside from Verlaine’s family, the people are actually unclean the way they would have been, the environments are realistic as well as everything else. The only mistake is that Mrs. Verlaine puts her corset on first, anyone who has worn a real corset knows what that would do.
    It is a shame, now that I am looking deeper into it, how little homosexuality has really been depicted in a strong way in cinema. The Celluloid Closet is a wonderful program documenting this and the ways in which its representation in mainstream film has changed through the 20th century.
    Right now, I am wondering why there aren’t many more movies documenting the gay culture of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
    Hopefully, maybe one day when and if it is completed, a very good one will be made based on my novel, we’ll see.

  25. Hi Justine,

    I really keep meaning to get hold of Total eclipse!

    Let me know when your book is published so we can review it if it’s pre-wolfenden/Stonewall!

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