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Sebastiane: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]

3.0 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Stripped of rank and exiled to a remote Sardinian outpost, Roman soldier and suspected Christian Sebastian (Leonardo Treviglio) becomes the object of his commanding officer Maximus' (Barney James) aggressive desire. As Sebastian turns his back on his fellow soldiers in favor of his own visionary mystical longings, the sun-bleached Mediterranean idyll becomes a psycho-sexual hothouse where predatory desire and religious longing set the stage for a shocking tableau of death and martyrdom. Sebastiane caused a riot when it premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, and was a surprise hit upon its initial release in the UK. Remastered in HD and available for the first time on Blu-ray, Sebastiane is both a milestone in British independent film and a pioneering work of modern LGBT cinema. In Latin with English Subtitles. FEATURING A SOUNDTRACK FROM COMPOSER BRIAN ENO!

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Leonardo Treviglio, Barney James, Neil Kennedy, Richard Warwick
  • Directors: Derek Jarman, Paul Humfress
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Blu-ray, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2012
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0083Q4KAE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,281 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Clark on July 7, 2003
In Sebastiane (1976), British writer/directors Derek Jarman (this was his first feature) and Paul Humfress created a remarkable historical film and a landmark of gay cinema. It depicts the martyred fourth century Roman soldier, who was later both canonized as Saint Sebastian and revered as an enduring gay icon. The film strikingly balances a cinéma vérité depiction of the everyday life of common soldiers and a visionary exploration of one man's defiant growth in faith, even as it subtly questions the nature of that experience. Despite its microscopic budget, it is a remarkably well designed, shot, edited, scored (Brian Eno's first film music), and acted picture. The Kino DVD transfer is very good, especially considering that the picture was originally shot in 16mm, then blown up to 35mm.
The film takes some liberties with the historical/legendary Sebastian, who was never exiled to a remote outpost, and incredibly who was supposed not to have died from the arrows with which he was famously shot - how Emperor Diocletian ordered him killed, and how the film ends - but rather from a second execution when he was clubbed to death. Although the film works brilliantly on many levels - cinematic, psychological, spiritual, aesthetic, even political - what may strike you first is the vividness and authenticity of the ancient world it depicts. Despite an over-the-top prologue at the glitteringly decadent court of Diocletian, and its strategic use of famous Renaissance paintings of St. Sebastian (by Mantegna, Reni, etc.) in the final scene, this film feels like lived experience.
Shot on location in Sardinia, every well-worn costume and dusty prop seems genuine.
Read more ›
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This was Derek Jarman's debut film, which he co-directed with Paul Humfress, who was a director at the BBC and was there to assist Jarman in case there were any problems (there were none). It's actually Jarman's most homoerotic movie. The dialogue is in Latin, and it was street Latin (or "dog" Latin), not proper Latin. Jarman was very specific about the speech because these soldiers were ruffians; they wouldn't be speaking the queen's Latin, so to speak. Many have found the famous painting of St. Sebastiane (which Jarman recreates at the end of the film) very homoerotic (Yukio Mishima famously said that it gave him an erection the first time he saw it), so Jarman indulges quite freely in the erotic aspects of the story. The film has a mythic sheen to it, and it is a film you will never forget. The opening scene at the Roman orgy is very memorable. Jarman started out as Ken Russell's production designer, and this orgy scene seems a homage to him. Brian Eno's eerie, electronic music (reminiscent of his ambient albums, like Music for Airports) really gives the film an another world feel.

This film is NOT for the easily offended. There are massive amounts of male nudity here, but it's shown as natural, which it is. Essential viewing for Jarman fans (or which I include myself).
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Derek Jarman's first film (made in 1976) is a visually gorgeous film featuring an all male cast in various states of undress. Even if you are not interested in debating whether or not the film truly follows the real life of St. Sebastiane or what views of religion Jarman is trying to project, you can appreciate the film for its unique visual style and celebration of the male body. Here we have gorgeous tanned ripped males running around the desolute landscape in nothing but sandals and thongs (and sometimes nothing at all). The camera in slow motion captures them bathing, frolicing in the surf, riding horses, fighting and making love. This is a highly sensuous film, sometimes violent but often tender and not for those offended by homoerotica. The dialog is in Latin with English subtitles but the dialog on the whole is minimal. The only extra features on the dvd include a brief narrative text about Jarman's life and his filmography. The picture quality is superb.
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Format: DVD
After my initial dissapointment with Jarman's second film 'Jubilee', I was a bit hesitant to watch 'Sebastiane' but I'm glad I did because it shed some light on the nature and capabilities of this stage of Jarman's career - he was ambitious, bold, and very resourcefull - this is one of the finest low budget productions I have seen. This is the story of Sebastiane the man who died for his christian beliefs - but in this adaptation the focus is more on the homosexual tendencies of Roman military - it is almost a study in contrast the repression and solitiude of Sebastiane against the indulgences and vulgarity of Rome. There is also a beautiful soundtrack by Brian Eno.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I give the movie 5-stars, Jarman was an eccentric soul whose films always seem to reveal hidden secrets with each viewing. This is one of his best.

As for the Blu Ray, however, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that, even the highly-reputable Kino International wasn't able to completely restore this to breath-taking beauty. There are still a goodly number of flickers and grain and other signs of damage. My guess is that this is probably 90% due to the source material and the fact that the film was shot in only 16mm as opposed to the typical 35mm.

But the good news is that this is probably the best Sebastiane is ever going to look. There are considerable moments of glossy scenery and fine detail that makes 1080p fans swoon, and, just as importantly, there's the fact that it is released uncut in its original 1.66:1 format. The last time I watched the movie it was streamed online and the aspect ratio had been trimmed, unintentionally censoring many scenes.

Overall: as long as you purchase this with the knowledge that the picture quality won't compare to the many flawless restorations done by Kino, you shouldn't been disappointed. It is still 100x better than any previous release and I doubt the flaws are a matter of laziness on the restoration process, but unfortunately due to permanent damage. The movie itself is certainly a classic and would make a proud addition to your collection. The only other down-side is the fact that there are zero bonus features, which is very surprising given the historical importance of the film. If I thought another edition would be released in the next 10+ years I might recommend waiting, but since I highly doubt that, I say go for it.
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