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Sunday, April 22 2001
Volume 01 : Number 215

In this issue:

-Notes on a Scene in "Braveheart" (2)
-A Piece of Genet

From: "Ben Boxer"
Subject: Notes on a Scene in "Braveheart"

In the film, "Braveheart," directed by and starring Mel Gibson, there is a scene especially memorable for gay people; it depicts the ultimate in gay bashing, which, when I saw the movie in a cineplex, inspired titters of delight in the audience as it took place and harrumphs of grim satisfaction at its results.

In the scene, Edward 1, King of England, has returned from France. While away, his army has been virtually destroyed by the Scots. Edward's son, the Prince of Wales, has, in principle, been in charge during his father's absence, but the Prince is under the sway of his male lover, named "Phillip" in the film, on whose counsel (and that of Phillip's faction at Court) he has come to rely.

In the previous scene, set inside the Royal Governor of York's castle, we have heard York speak of this matter at the very moment the Scots are outside crashing through the castle gates with a battering ram.

"Damn it!" swears York. "The sodomite my cousin the Prince tells me he has no troops to lend and every town in Northern England is begging for help!"

Thus, it is established beyond all shadow of a doubt in the collective mind of the audience not only that young Prince Edward is gay, but also that he is scorned by his cousin, York, as much for being a homosexual as for not sending an army to help. Use of the ugly and demeaning word "sodomite" has an effect on the audience. Tight-jawed grunts of anger and disapproval are heard all around among those viewing the film.

As the Scots swarm into York's castle with shouts of triumph, the film cuts to the next scene:

(Back in London, Longshanks, i.e. King Edward I, and his men ride into the castle.)

Soldier: Make way for the king.

(Prince Edward, standing at a tower window overlooking the courtyard, watches his father's arrival. Then he nervously ducks back into the room. Phillip is there and goes to the window to have a look.)

Phillip: (turning back into the room) It's not your fault. Stand up to him.

Prince: I will stand up to him and more. (He practically falls into a chair. His fear is causing him to sweat. Longshank's footsteps are heard climbing the tower stairway. He enters the room, handing his crown to his escort, who leaves, closing the door behind him.)

Longshanks: (to the Prince) What news of the North?

Prince: (standing) Nothing new, Your Majesty. We've sent riders to speed any word.

Longshanks: I heard the word in France, where I was fighting to expand your future kingdom. The word, my son, is that our entire Northern Army has been annihilated. And you have done nothing.

Prince: I have ordered conscriptions. They are assembled and ready to depart.

(Chamberlain and a soldier enter.)

Chamberlain: Excuse me, sire, but there is a very urgent message from York.

Longshanks: Come. (The soldier hands over a covered basket and a note.) Leave us.

Soldier: Thank you, sire. (He is happy to leave the room)

Prince: (reading the note) Wallace has sacked York.

Longshanks: What?

Prince: Wallace has sacked York.

(Longshanks grabs the note out of the Prince's hands and reads it to himself while Prince Edward lifts the cover of the basket and, shocked by what he sees, falls back into his chair. Longshanks looks into the basket and pulls its contents out--the Governor of York's head.)

Phillip: Sire, thy own nephew. What beast could do such a thing?

Longshanks: (putting the head back in the basket, thinking out loud) If he can sack York, he can invade lower England.

Phillip: (advancing) We would stop him!

Longshanks: Who is this person who speaks to me as though I needed his advice?

Prince: (standing, stating with some self-assertion) I have declared Phillip my High Counselor.

Longshanks: Is he qualified?

(The Prince starts to answer but is interrupted.)

Phillip: (confidently) I am skilled in the arts of war and military tactics, sire.

Longshanks: Are you?

(Longshanks assumes a kindly manner, laying an arm across Phillip's shoulder. They walk slowly toward the window.)

Longshanks: Then tell me, what advice would you offer on the present situation?

(As Phillip begins his reply, Longshanks throws him out the window to his death. Phillip screams on his way down. The Prince runs to the window and looks down at Phillip, dead on the pavement, his head surrounded by a pool of blood. In anger, Prince Edward draws his dagger and tries to attack his father, but is easily disarmed and beaten to the floor, whimpering and coughing.)

That scene is pure fiction, inserted to give a thrill to homophobes (among whom, I have heard, Gibson is a major player). The real-life Piers Gaveston, upon whom the Phillip character is presumably based, met his death after the Prince succeeded his father as Edward II.

"Braveheart" has a bad reputation with historians, but it was a smash-hit at the box-office, which is where history is made in the movie business. Gibson and company took many liberties with the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce leading Scotland in war against England, but the film educated great masses of people in styles and customs of turn-of-the-14th-century Europe.

Terrible ills would literally plague Europe later in the century---the Bubonic Plague, for one, which would wipe out at least 50 percent of the population, and the Hundred Years War, a conflagration started by Longshanks' and the Prince of Wales' grandson and son, respectively: Edward III.

(See attached pictures of silverfox Patrick McGoohan as Longshanks.)

Christopher "Kit" Marlowe, Elizabethan poet and playwright introduced into this series in Digests 212 and 213, April 2001, wrote a play c. 1590 called "Edward II" about the overtly homosexual prince. In 1924, Bavarian avant-garde playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote a contemporary adaptation of the Marlowe drama, and in 1991 gay British filmmaker Derek Jarman, who died of AIDS in 1994, made his own adaptation of the Marlowe drama for a film in modern dress.

Apart from the disturbing inclusion of Phillip's death scene, "Braveheart" is a stirring film, beautifully mounted and superbly acted. Essentially a visual dramatist in his role as director, Gibson had the right to distort the life of a royal despised by most noblemen of his time and maligned by some historians as a "pantywaist," "sodomite," and "faggot king"---just as he had the right to inflate the sympathetic character representing William Wallace at the expense, in large part, of overlooking the greater historical role played by the brilliance and overriding genius of Robert the Bruce in the Scots' struggle for national independence.

So, likewise, did Marlowe in the late 16th century, and Brecht in the early 20th, and Jarman in the late 20th, distort elements of Edward II's turn-of-the-14th-century life in pursuit of dramatic impact. Playwrights, poets, and directors are not historians, nor should they be, but Marlowe, Brecht, and Jarman drew from it the angst of living gay in a straight world as Gibson did not, except in the most crass and exploitative manner.
From: George of Boston
Subject: Re: Notes on a Scene in "Braveheart"

My ex and I saw a stage production here in Boston of Marlowe's drama "Edward II" on last Saturday evening. An interesting play. A very sexy Piers Gaveston. A long play by today's standards - three hours.

George of Boston (Boston Bill)
From: "Ben Boxer"
Subject: A Piece of Genet

A Selection from "Funeral Rites" by Jean Genet

Jean GenetEric and the executioner were locked in an embrace face-to-face. Eric's undershorts were torn. His khaki pants were falling down and forming a thick heap of clothes between his legs, and his buttocks were crushed in the fog against the red bark, those soft-skinned, amber buttocks, as rich to the eye as the milky fog whose matter had the luster of pearl. Eric hung from the executioner's neck with both hands. His feet were no longer touching the wet grass, though his pants were, having fallen down between his naked calves and his ankles. The executioner, whose prick was still stiff and was now between Eric's pressed thighs, held him up and dug into the rich earth. Their knees were piercing the mist. The executioner was hugging Eric to him, and at the same time, backing him up and crushing his ass against the tree. Eric was pulling the man's head. The executioner realized that Eric was solidly built and tremendously violent. They stayed in that position for a few seconds without moving, the two heads pushing hard against each other, cheek to cheek. The executioner was the first to break away, for he had discharged his semen between Eric's golden thighs, which were velvety with morning mist. The position had lasted only a brief moment, but long enough to beget in the executioner and the morning's assistant at the execution a feeling of simultaneous tenderness: Eric for the executioner, whom he was holding by the neck in such a way that it could mean only tenderness, and the executioner for the young man, for even though the gesture was necessitated by their difference in height, it was so winning that it would have made the toughest of men burst into tears. Eric loved the executioner. He wanted to love him, and little by little he felt himself being wrapped in the huge folds of the legendary red cloak inside which he cuddled at the same time as he took a piece of newspaper from his pocket and politely handed it to the executioner who took it to wipe his prick.

"I love the executioner and I make love with him, at dawn!"

(Jean Genet was a French author and playwright who died in 1986 at the age of 76. The adoptive son of a blind singer, he was sent to a reformatory for a minor offense at the age of 15, thus beginning a long career in French and Spanish correctional institutions. He understood and wrote about prison life as no one else ever has. He described love and sex between men in rich and lyrical prose. The above fragment comes from the first novel he wrote outside of jail, "Funeral Rites" (1947). It is dedicated to his lover, the Resistance fighter Jean Decarnin, who was killed during the liberation of Paris at the end of the Second World War. "I felt that I could only reply to the rigidness of his corpse with the rigidness of my penis." In writing this novel, Genet released his fantasies of erotic encounters with Aryan victors in black uniforms bulging with virility, exterminating angels whose caresses are brutal. For Genet, to screw a man was to become a man doubly. An unusual tribute to his memory was held on October 8, 1999, with "Jeans for Genes," a one-day fundraising appeal where everyone across the UK was invited to wear JEANs to help children affected by GENETic disorders. Jean Genet's works have also been made into films, one of them, "Querelle," starring the late Brad Davis who died of AIDS at age 42.)

End of silverfoxesclub-digest V1 #215