Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Genius! Oscar Wilde, Samuel R. Delany, and Stephen Fry

Two great films about geniuses, who were gay! Wilde (1997) is an eloquent re-telling of the life of Oscar Wilde, who died at the turn of the century, after falling from perhaps the most celebrated person in all of England, to becoming the most scorned and accursed. Stephen Fry is perfect as Wilde, while Jude Law seems to personify the spoiled, selfish but beautiful Bosie. A small delight is seeing Orlando Bloom's face for a minute or two as part of a gang of rent boys who catches Wilde's eye and seems to set some unsettling knowledge free inside of Wilde.

Lou picked out The Polymath, or the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman (2007) to see at the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival this year, and it was DELIGHTFUL. And the film-maker Fred Barney Taylor was there for comments and questions at the end. Now I need to read more of Sam Delany's books!

The contrast between his life as a gay man could not be in greater contrast to that of Oscar Wilde, who seemed to focus on intellect and the ideal, while Delany definitely focused on the body, and having lots of sexual encounters—100 per week for many years, he says. They were both married to women, too. Sylistically, the films were worlds apart, also. Wilde is a BBC biopic, rather stately and beautiful. Polymath is about an science-fiction author from New York, and it features very abstract images and gritty New York.

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