Connect with us

Arts & Culture

Taking a great gay movie to new heights

Published

on

E.M. Forster wrote Maurice in 1914, but it wasn’t published until 1971 — a year after Forster’s death. As a closeted gay man, Maurice was an opportunity for Forster to explore his own experiences and those of his close circle.

In Maurice, Forster gives us the story of Maurice Hall. While at college at Cambridge in the early 1900s, Maurice falls in love with Clive Durham. Realising the risk to his career and social standing, Clive ends the relationship with Maurice and marries. Maurice seeks medical help to try and cure himself of being gay, but once he meets and falls in love with Alec Scudder he accepts that he cannot change who he is.

The film adaptation, by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, was released in 1987. It has has now been digitally restored and remastered, and given a second cinema release.

Written by James Ivory and directed by Ismail Merchant, Maurice has all the hallmarks of what made Merchant Ivory productions so iconic — a respectful adaptation delivering quintessential period-drama.

It’s a film with a strong cast, post-card-perfect locations, and it’s beautifully shot by cinematographer Pierre Lhomme. It’s got all the stately grandeur and class-ist Englishness that a Downton Abbey fan could wish for, and Hugh Grant’s hair is award-worthy in its own right.

However, the context of the film makes it even more powerful. Released in 1987, it was only six years after the first cases of HIV and AIDS had been reported — these were some of the worst years of the pandemic. Merchant and Ivory were lovers as well as creative partners — this film was, in effect, their cinematic coming out. It was a big budget, lavish, period-drama with a gay love story at its heart — a gay love story with a happy ending.

Jump forward thirty years and James Ivory is once again at the helm of an iconic movie — adapting the novel of Call Me By Your Name for the screen. Ismail Merchant may no longer be by his side (he died in 2005), but James Ivory is still filling our screens with love and helping his characters and us to navigate the complexity of our emotions.

Maurice isn’t a perfect film, but the Merchant Ivory team have not only given us a story in which we can immerse ourselves, they’ve created a celebration of the hidden life of E.M. Forster, and they’ve delivered a compelling and timely statement on the worth and humanity of gay men.

In any list of of great gay movies, Maurice deserves to be near the top.

Cast

  • James Wilby
  • Hugh Grant
  • Rupert Graves
  • Denholm Elliott
  • Simon Callow
  • Billie Whitelaw
  • Judy Parfitt
  • Ben Kingsley

Maurice is distributed in the UK by BFI — screening nationally from 27 July 2018.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

We want to hear your opinion

Advertisement

Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men

Published

on

Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.

Advertisement

What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

Follow Samer Bo on Twitter

Read more from Gareth Johnson

Continue Reading

Trending