A Song of Love (French: Un chant d’amour) is French writer Jean Genet’s only film, which he directed in 1950. Because of its explicit (though artistically presented) homosexual content, the 26-minute movie was long banned and even disowned by Genet later in his life.
The plot is set in a French prison, where a prison guard takes voyeuristic pleasure in observing the prisoners perform masturbatory sexual acts. In two adjacent cells, there is an older Algerian-looking man and a handsome convict in his twenties. The older man is in love with the younger one, rubbing himself against the wall and sharing his cigarette smoke with his beloved through a straw. The prison guard, apparently jealous of the prisoner’s relationship, enters the older convict’s cell, beats him, and makes him suck on his gun in an unmistakably sexual fashion. However, the inmate drifts off into a fantasy where he and his object of desire roam the countryside. In the final scene, it becomes clear that the guard’s power is no match for the intensity of attraction between the prisoners, even though their relationship is not consummated.
Genet does not use dialogue in his film, but focuses instead on close-ups of bodies, on faces, armpits, and penises. The film’s highly sexualized atmosphere has been recognized as a formative factor for works such as the films of Andy Warhol. —Wikipedia
Jean Genet (December 19, 1910(1910-12-19) – April 15, 1986) was a prominent and controversial French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing. His major works include the novels Querelle of Brest, The Thief’s Journal, and Our Lady of the Flowers, and the plays The Balcony, The Blacks, The Maids and The Screens.
Genet’s mother was a young prostitute who raised him for the first year of his life before putting him up for adoption. Thereafter Genet was raised in the provinces by a carpenter and his family, who according to Edmund White’s biography, were loving and attentive. While he received excellent grades in school, his childhood involved a series of attempts at running away and incidents of petty theft (although White also suggests that Genet’s later claims of a dismal, impoverished childhood were exaggerated to fit his… read more
It's not as beautiful as Miracle of the Rose but it's pretty great. I wish Genet had directed more.
Just purely amazing! Strangely erotic and sensually hypnotic, this film condenses and distills the power of the image. Montage and mise-en-scene are intertwined like the naked male bodies in the movie.
terribly drawn to the music of this film, i did some research and other sources say it's not Gavin Bryars, but Simon Fisher Turner. i looked up the track and it is what i heard on the film... Turner also did music for Jarman films. thus I think Bryars is an error! either way, this is as brilliant and accessible as experimental queer cinema gets. genius.
Bryars did a soundtrack for a rerelease of the film in the 1970s. Those prints and that soundtrack must be out there somewhere, though I've never been able to find it/them. When it was first shown, it was shown silent with no music at all. The excellent SFT soundtrack was added for the fairly recent DVD release.