A BIT OF SCARLET

UK, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Andrea Weiss

A Bit of Scarlet is an imaginatively constructed, painstakingly assembled and highly amus­ing montage of gay-themed cliches and stereo­types from 60-odd years of British cinema. Director Andrea Weiss sets out to entertain first and enlighten second; individual scenes are not tied to historical context, but are instead juxta­posed to hilarious and ironic effect, and to illus­trate various 'rules' about gay cinema. A Bit of Scarlet fairly bristles with Wildean one-liners as inter-titles: "Your purpose in life is to disrupt the heterosexual plot" or the racy "The buddy pic­ture can get by with more than the usual male bonding."

Subversion of serious drama - or classic melodrama - is the name of Weiss' game. When Sherlock Holmes pretends to be on intimate terms with Dr. Watson, Weiss intercuts shots of actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce camping it up. She also has fun with a clip from This is the Army, when Irving Berlin appears singing a sweet tribute to My English Buddy. Behind him is a cho­rus of uniformed soldiers, many with their arms around each other.

A Bit of Scarlet could be considered a transat­lantic companion piece to MIFF 1996 smash The Celluloid Closet, but is essential additional viewing to gauge the differing screen cultural attitudes of the UK Vs USA...and to enjoy a riotously funny and engaging documentary.


See also...

FRANTZ FANON: BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASK

Isaac Julien's film is an eloquent exposition of the life and work of the Martinique-born psy­chiatrist and cultural theorist, Frantz Fanon. Between his arrival in France in the mid-1940s and his deat... More »

YANG & YIN: GENDER IN CHINESE CINEMA

Stanley Kwan explores his own history - as an eldest son gay man and film director - through the images of sexual identity in Chinese cinema. From the Shanghai classics of the 30s to the work of conte... More »

WARRIOR MARKS

Pratibha Parmar (Khush, A Place Of Rage) joins with author Alice Walker (The Color Puiple, Possessing The Secret Of Joy) in a moving exploration of the cultural and political issues surrounding the pr... More »

LIVE FROM BRITAIN

A critique of post 1979 Britain, Live From Britain explores the ideological construction of "the future" and of "tradition" in the maintanence of bourgeois hegemony. Rituals of popular culture, toys, ... More »

NO GREATER LAW

"A riveting dive into a case that tests Americans’ commitment to religious tolerance, Tom Dumican’s No Greater Law asks if Idaho should keep allowing children to die of easily treatable illnesses beca... More »

BLUE

Challenging British director Derek Jarman's final major work has been compared in visual execution to Warhol's Sleep and Empire State. Where it outstrips them both is in the meticulously crafted and i... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director