De Profundis was the closest Oscar Wilde ever came to a queer apologia and defense, written as a letter from Reading Gaol over a three-month period in 1897. In it the imprisoned author laments the mask of bourgeois heterosexual he wore for so long: "Those who want a mask have to wear it" is his brief, bitter assessment. This idea of queers and the masks society forces them to adopt is also one of the driving themes of Lawrence Brose’s 65-minute experimental film, also called De Profundis, a surreal exploration of homo identity.
This difficult film is a stroboscopic collage of 1920s queer home movies, old gay porn loops, Radical Faerie hoedowns, and drag queen performances, images the director stretches, flattens, reverses, recolors, and degrades in a heady attempt to render the shifting queer persona and the many assaults on it. Wilde "appears" as the film’s patron saint in passages read from De Profundis, many of them pungent aphorisms that speak volumes not only about his wretched experience in jail but about the intense desirability of prying off that mask and living authentically.
Source: Gary Moris, BrightFilm.com
- June 28
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