Un Chant d'Amour DVD
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Directed by Jean Genet
Produced in 1950
Main Language - Silent
Andre Reybaz, Lucien Senemaud
Although Jean Genet was deeply interested in the medium of film, and his friendship with Jean Cocteau encouraged him to pen many scripts, he only made one film himself – Un Chant d’Amour. Although it was made as an underground film designed to be viewed only by a small clique of intellectuals, it has since become one of the most famous and acclaimed gay films ever made.
Un Chant d’Amour details the fantasies and desires of a prison warder and his male prisoners. The excruciating nature of confinement causes the prisoners to channel their frustrations through masturbation or in bizarre, erotic dancing. One prisoner escapes into a dreamed utopia, where he and his lover gambol though a picturesque forest. The film enduces an extraordinary dream-like aura, with haunting imagery such as the flowers swinging between the prison cells and the famously erotic cigarette scene.
Although the film was first released on video in Britain with no soundtrack at all, Simon Fisher Turner has composed an evocative score for this DVD release that complements the poetic imagery beautifully. There is also an informative commentary that details the making of the film (this is particularly absorbing, as many of the players in Un Chant d’Amour were unknowns whom Genet knew personally, and background information on these men is very difficult to find).
Un Chant d’Amour was made at the same time as Cocteau’s Orphée, and both films have had a massive influence on queer cinema. Fassbinder’s Querelle, adapted from the work by Genet, borrows much of the imagery from the former film. Sexual desire has rarely been depicted so lyrically on film, and it is regrettable that Genet never again visited the medium of cinema.
Alex Davidson on 19th May 2004
Author of 238 reviews
The subject of endless controversy and international censorship, and unseen for many years, Un Chant d'Amour launches the BFI's new series of short film classics. Previously available in a silent version only on the VHS 'Gay Classics', the film has been digitally remastered from the original uncut version for this DVD release, and features a vibrant new music score by Simon Fisher Turner. 'The most famous gay short in European history' - Tony Rayns.
Length: 25 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 2nd June 2003
Cat No: BFIVD567
- Audio commentary by writer Jane Giles and filmmaker Richard Kwietniowski.