Combustible Celluloid Review - Un chant d'amour (1950), Jean Genet, Jean Genet, Java, André Reybaz, Coco Le Martiniquais, Lucien Sénémaud
Combustible Celluloid
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With: Java, André Reybaz, Coco Le Martiniquais, Lucien Sénémaud
Written by: Jean Genet
Directed by: Jean Genet
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 25
Date: 01/01/1950

Un chant d'amour (1950)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Cell du Jour

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The only film directed by playwright, poet and novelist Jean Genet (Querelle), the 25-minute short film Un chant d'amour also has the distinction of being one of the most noteworthy gay films ever made. Genet apparently made it for gay porn collectors, but it's not particularly lurid. In a French prison, a guard observes as several inmates masturbate in various ways. Two adjacent prisoners fantasize about each other, blowing smoke through a tiny hole that connects their cells. Soon, one man begins to imagine life on the outside with his friend. Though the film has a surreal feel (it has no dialogue), Genet stays away from actual surreal images, except for one recurring one depicting two inmates trying to pass a wreath of flowers from one window to the next. In one scene, a guard makes one of the prisoners suck on the muzzle of his gun, but there's little doubt as to what that represents. Regardless, it's a very effective film, and quite lovely at times. It's a favorite of filmmakers Todd Haynes and Jim Jarmusch.

Released in 2007, a new two-disc DVD set from Cult Epics comes with an introduction by filmmaker Jonas Mekas, a commentary track by Kenneth Anger, a 52-minute documentary on Genet and a 46-minute interview with Genet.

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