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Un Chant d'Amour
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Un Chant d'Amour

Un Chant d'Amour is French writer Jean Genet's only film, which he directed in 1950. Because of its explicit (though artistically presented) homosexual content, the 26-minute movie was long banned and was also disowned by Genet later in his life.

The plot is set in a French prison, where a prison guard takes voyeuristic pleasure in observing the prisoners perform masturbatory sexual acts. In two adjacent cells, there are an older Algerian-looking man and a handsome convict in his twenties. The older man is in love with the younger one, rubbing himself against the wall and sharing his cigarette smoke with his beloved through a straw.

The prison guard, apparently jealous of the prisoner's relationship, enters the older convict's cell, beats him, and makes him suck on his gun in an unmistakably sexual fashion. But the inmate drifts off into a fantasy where he and his object of desire roam the countryside. In the final scene it becomes clear that the guard's power is no match for the intensity of attraction between the prisoners, even though their relationship is not consummated.

Genet does not use sound in his film, forcing the viewer to completely focus on closeups of faces, armpits, and semi-erect penises. Originally produced as a porn movie of sorts, the film with its highly sexualized atmosphere has later been recognized as a formative factor for works such as the films by Andy Warhol.