Queer bodies and transformative natural seascapes

Authors: Pullen, C.

Conference: Screen Studies Conference

Dates: 27-29 June 2014


Recent films have set queer bodies in the natural seascape, foregrounding a liminal transformative environment. Undertow (Fuentes-León, 2009) and Children of God (Mortimer, 2010) both present mixed race queer male relationships within the narrative domain of the ‘unspoiled’ beach, framing issues of shame, politics and community, connoting seascape as redemptive.

Historically in film the beach (or the seaside) for queer men, represents a place of sexual liaison, connoting liberty and danger, foregrounding the opportunity of cruising for sex, or containment within heteronormative social groupings. For example Suddenly Last Summer (Mankiewicz, 1959) and Death In Venice (Visconti, 1971), frame the queer body as engaged and mobilized, but ultimately coded as mortal, made abject by the natural order. While J’embrasse Pas (Téchiné,1991) and Presque Rein (Lifshitz, 2000) offer more ambivalence, in the focus on AIDS, and unrequited love respectively, here the seascape represents for the queer body, not only a site of pleasure, containment or demise, but also a place of resolution, and coming to terms.

Undertow and Children of God, foreground the beach as a liminal space for queer bodies, echoing both a celluloid representational history, and a contemporary narrative construct, framing mortality within nature, as a rejection of queer shame.

Source: Manual