Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Gay representation in PEPLUM films

For a genre with macho men single handedly battling villains and rescueing damsels in distress, PEPLUM films were surprisingly open about many of their characters being gay. Granted, most of them were villains or scheming, double crossing characters but the openness is still sometimes startling certainly when most of these films were popular with youngsters and certainly compared to stuff made in Hollywood at the time.

Posted at the "Special Features" page.

Gianni Rizzo gladly partakes of some grapes from handsome Vassili Karis in THE TEN GLADIATORS. Rizzo often played effeminate rulers but rarely with a lover in tow as in this film which is odd considering it's an all out action film. 

Narcissus (right; Giulio Donnini) has a good time with his companion during a Roman feast in MESSALINA (1960). Though scheming and cunning, his character is one of the few in PEPLUM films not to portray him as the main villain. Well, next to Messalina, I guess anyone would look good in comparison. Arf.

Queen Bera (Anouk Aimée) and her "favourite" (Mitsuko Takara) in SODOM & GOMORRAH. Director Robert Aldrich had a thing for lesbians, with LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE and THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE to his credit.

"You give the orders. And I obey the orders" Drago (right, Giuseppe Mattei) says gladly to his master Tercius (Jacques Berthier) in 79 A.D. THE DESTRUCTION OF HERCULANEUM, which obviously hints at a relationship between the two.

FELLINI'S SATYRICON was one of the first and most bold PEPLUM or mainstream film to portray homosexual characters not only in an open way but also as the main characters of the story, which today is still rare. An amazing film that's not to everyone's taste.

Oreitheia (Sabine Sun) gets intimate with a dancer in WAR GODDESS, in order to make her lover, Antiope (played by Alena Johnston, not shown) jealous. The film is replete with sexy lesbian scenes to titillate the (horny male) audience, a big difference with the portrayal of gay male characters.

Sarm (Oliver Reed) admires one of his male cohorts in GOR

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