FILMS DEPICTING PEDERASTY
As film is a medium that has only arisen in an age extremely hostile to Greek love and has been financially heavily dependent on appealing to popular culture, it is inevitable that its depictions of it have tended to be extremely negative. The huge budgets required for high-quality films rule out trying to show what most people do not want to see or hear, however true in spirit or fact. The following list of films or television episodes is thus offered with the caveat that little insight into Greek love is to be found here compared with the written word.
In most respects, the viewer hoping for insight into Greek love would be much better off seeing the much larger category of films which do not allude to the erotic element of Greek love, but which depict the sort of strong bonding between unrelated boys and men that Greek love has existed precisely to facilitate. By avoiding what has become taboo, the makers of these films have been incomparably freer to explore truthfully the remaining emotional dynamics of the bonding depicted and to show its power. In some cases, this avoidance is deliberate (for example, in The Man Without a Face (1983), where the erotic element gently introduced towards the end of the novel is firmly excluded and turned on its head), but in most of the most powerful cases (for example, Captains Courageous (1937)), one cannot know if the film-makers were conscious or not of what they excluded. The essay Special Friendships by Steven Freedman is highly recommended as an introduction to this genre of film. Most of the films in it are fully reviewed in his Asher Archive, the housing of which has been the main purpose of the film section of this website.
Films are listed by their original titles and in alphabetical order (ignoring the definite or indefinite article), followed by the names of their directors, the countries and years of their production and the number of minutes they last in the longest versions publicly released.
Abuse, Arthur J. Bressan, USA, 1983, 94 minutes. Asher Archive. Review. Dangerously heretical, low-budget film depicting the love story of a boy of 14, Thomas Carroll (Raphael Sbarge) and a student filmmaker of 32 (Richard Ryder), who is torn between his career and running away with the boy who might otherwise be beaten to death by his violent parents, and contrasting their love, called “abuse” by contemporary society, with the genuine abuse the boy had long suffered.
Les amis (The Friends), Gérard Blain, France, 1971, 93 minutes. 16-year-old Paul (Yan Epstein), an aspiring actor living in Paris with a divorced mother uninterested in him, and Philippe (Philippe March), an industrialist in his forties and in a loveless marriage, are drawn together, Paul’s brief affair with a girl who drops him, serving only to reinforce his love for his unpossessive “godfather”.. Though nothing sexual is depicted, the impression of characteristic pederastic love is unmistakeable.
Les amitiés particulières (This Special Friendship), Jean Delannoy, France, 1964, 102 minutes. Asher Archive. Review. The well-recounted and tragic love affair of 12-year-old Alexandre Motier, and aristocrat Georges de Sarre, an older boy, at a French Catholic boys’ boarding school in the 1920s. Atmospheric, mostly faithful to Roger Peyrefitte’s superb novel of the same name, and finely acted by the main protagonists, correctly-aged Didier Haudepin as Alexandre and Francis Lacombrade, who was suitably several years older than the improbably sophisticated 14-year-old Georges of the novel. The best depiction of Greek love in cinema.
Bad Boys, Rick Rosenthal, USA, 1983, 123 minutes. The main plot is the violent enmity of two Chicago 16-year-olds imprisoned in Rainford Juvenile Correctional Facility, but the short and brutal pederastic scene involving two other inmates is incidental to this: Tweety (Robert Lee Rush), a late-teen black youth rapes a black boy of about 13 (which appears to be routine for him) and then, when the boy flies at him with his fists, throws him down a floor to his death.
Black Adder II: Bells, Mandie Fletcher, Great Britain, tv, 1986, 30 minutes. Asher Archive. This BBC comedy series is about Edmund, Lord Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), a courtier trying to win the favour of Queen Elizabeth I. In this first episode, a young woman (Gabrielle Glaister) comes to Blackadder disguised as “Bob” a boy, seeking service. Nothing will mitigate the lust Blackadder is disturbed to find he has for his new page until he discovers the truth, leading within minutes to sex and engagement between them.
Blue Jeans, Hugues Burin des Roziers, France, 1976, 80 minutes. Asher Archive. Blond 13-year-old Julien (Gilles Budin) and other French children go on an English-language course at an English coastal town, but spend more time exploring the mysteries of love. Julien is initially drawn to a girl, but when she gets involved with an older boy, Jean-Pierre (Michel Gibet), Julien falls in love with him instead. Jean-Pierre distances himself when their constant companionship is observed by the other boys and Julien mocked as queer, and, back in France, Jean-Pierre dismisses an invitation to visit from the devastated younger boy.
The Boys of St. Vincent, John N. Smith, Canada, tv, 1992, 186 minutes. Only questionably concerned with pederasty, as the boys it centres on, Kevin Reevey (Johnny Morina) and Steven Lunney (Brian Dodd) were both aged ten, this docudrama based on real events depicts the beating and sexual abuse of boys by Roman Catholic priests at a Newfoundland orphanage.
Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino, USA, 2017, 132 minutes. Set in the Italian Riviera in 1983, the finely-portrayed love affair of Elio (Timothée Chalamet) an Italian youth, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old American house-guest. Though Elio is 17 (and his actor beyond boyhood), the tone of the affair is pederastic rather than gay, the love fulfilling needs at a particular stage of life rather than implying a coming-out for either lover.
Capturing the Friedmans, Andrew Jarecki, USA, 2003, 107 minutes. An award-winning documentary about the 1987 investigation and jailing of a New York father and son, Arnold and Jesse Friedman, on highly questionable charges of sex with boy pupils, the cause of the aggressive investigation and its success coming down to Arnold Friedman's admission of mere sexual attraction to boys. Includes home videos showing the disintegration of the Friedman family and interviews with every kind of person involved in the case, all presented in an astonishingly neutral manner for this late date, leaving the viewer to make up his own mind.
Chicken Hawk: Men Who Love Boys, Adi Sideman, USA, documentary 1994, 55 minutes. Adult members of the North American Man Boy Love Association (founded in 1978 in a blaze of misplaced optimism to struggle for freedom for man/boy love) explain themselves. Though largely left to speak for themselves, the director admitted to pride in having led them into casting themselves in an unattractive light, the resultant slant being inevitable in a documentary getting public release at a date by when their cause was long lost. The title tells one all one needs to know about its fairness.
Chosen, Brian Woods, Great Britain, tv, 2008, 97 minutes. A haunting documentary in which three middle-aged men describe frankly and articulately sex from the age of 11 with masters at Caldicott Preparatory School in Buckinghamshire in 1960-73, and its effects on them. None of the three boys showed any reluctance at the time, but none made a choice about it, so, unsurprisingly, living in British society, all came to look back on it very negatively and, after more than thirty years, reported it to the police.
Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo), Uli Edel, West Germany, 1981, 138 minutes. The true story of 13- to 14-year-old Christiane Felscherinow (Natja Brunckhorst) in mid 1970s West Berlin, who becomes a heroin addict with other teenagers, falls in love with 15-year-old Detlev (Thomas Haustein), leaves home to stay with him and follows him into prostitution to support their heroin addiction. Near the end of the film, the latter takes her to stay in the home of a client, in whose bed Christiane, awakening at night, finds him being loudly fucked. He protests that there’s nothing else he can do. She leaves, finally determined enough by this and the deaths from overdoses of two friends to give up heroine.
Il Conformista (The Conformist), Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 1970, 108 minutes. Set mostly in 1938-43, when the main character, Marcello Clerici, was a Fascist flunky, in one of a series of flashbacks, Marcello aged about 13 (Pasquale Fortunato) is shown with his chauffeur Lino, who makes sexual advances on him, and the boy partially responds to him before seizing a pistol, shooting wildly and supposing wrongly he had killed Lino, whom he encounters decades later.
Death in Venice/Morte a Venezia, Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1971, 130 minutes. Review. A visually stunning rendition of Thomas Mann’s autobiographical novella about a sick German, Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) visiting Venice in 1911 for a rest, and falling in love with Tadzio, a beautiful Polish boy of 14 (played by 16-year-old Björn Andrésen) staying in the same hotel. Aschenbach follows Tadzio and his family around the city, and Tadzio acknowledges him with thoughtful glances, but they never speak and Aschenbach finally succumbs to a heart attack while watching Tadzio play on a beach.
Il Decameron (The Decameron), Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy, 1971, 106 minutes. An adaptation of Boccaccio's 14th- century collection of short stories, including a brief scene where a young man in a marketplace sidles up to a likely looking lad of about 14 and tickles his genitals meaningfully, the boy promptly draws a dagger, but when the man proffers a well-hung bag of coins he grins and escorts him back home – only to shove him down a shaft into a cesspit.
Du er ikke alene (You are Not Alone), Lasse Nielsen and Ernst Johansen, Denmark, 1978, 90 minutes. Asher Archive. At a boys’ boarding-school in Denmark, 15-year-old Bo (Anders Agensø) and the headmaster's 12-year-old son, Kim (Peter Bjerg) experience first love together, and, far from being intimidated by the adult authorities, show the entire school a short film they have made about it. The most famously defiant film ever made in defence of pubescent homosexuality and self-determination.
Eban and Charley, James Bolton, USA, 2000, 86 minutes. When 15-year-old Charley (Gio Black Peter)’s mother dies, he is sent to live with his bullying father in Oregon and finds solace in a love affair with 29-year-old Eban (Brent Fellows). Low budget and slow, but well-acted.
Élève libre (Private Lessons), Joachim Lafosse, Belgium, 2008, 105 minutes. 16-year-old Jonas (Jonas Bloquet) gives up school in pursuit of his aspirations as a tennis player, and is taken under the wing of Pierre (Jonathan Zaccaï), an established player in his thirties, who spoils his love affair with a girl, and extends his coaching into homosex that Jonas ultimately rejects.
En tu ausencia (In Your Absence), Ivan Noel, Spain, 2008, 95 minutes. 13-year-old Pablo Benitez (Gonzalo Sánchez Salas), a lonely and fatherless, but lovable boy whose only friend is a forward girl of 15, encounters Paco (Francisco Alfonsin), a man whose car has broken down near his village in Andalusia, and gradually opens up to the stranger, despite adverse village gossip, to the extent that he implicitly invites him to physical love in an act of trust that is spurned and leads on to an unexpected, strange and tragic ending. A visually stunning film and extraordinary accomplishment for an independent who had to sell his house to afford it.
Un enfant dans la foule (A Child in the Crowd), Gérard Blain, France, 1975, 85 minutes. Review. Lonely and tender-hearted Paul (César Chauveau) whose father had abandoned the family years before, and whose mother coldly ignores his touching attempts to win her affection, leaves school prematurely and finds himself, aged thirteen in the summer of 1944, half-living on the streets of wartime Paris; good-looking, he is soon embroiled in a series of short affairs with adults of both sexes, but mostly men, partly for survival but more in a quest for love which is sadly never successful.
Ernesto, Salvatore Samperi, Italy, 1979, 94 minutes. Adapted from Umberto Saba’s largely autobiographical novel and set in Trieste in 1911, 16-year-old Ernesto, a half-Jewish bourgeouis apprentice clerk, has his first sexual liaison with a labourer of 28 (Michele Placido), whom he lets deflower him but then coldly drops after experiencing heterosex with a prostitute. He subsequently falls for Ilio, a boy violinist two years younger, who is difficult to distinguish from his twin sister (unsurprisingly since both were played by actress Lara Wendel), leaving him with finally confused feelings.
Fairytale of Kathmandu, Neasa Ní Chianáin, Ireland, 2007, 60 minutes. Documentary about Irish poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh's life in Nepal made with his help by a supposed friend who secretly turned it into an attack on his "unequal" love relationships there with mid-teen boys he supported.
Fellini Satyricon, Federico Fellini, Italy, 1969, 129 minutes. Asher Archive. Heavily adapted from Petronius’s partly-lost Neronian satirical novel of Roman decadence, and as disjointed as the novel's fragments, the story centres on the rivalry of two stunningly-handsome youths, Encolpio (Martin Potter) and Ascilto (Hiram Keller) for faithless 14-year-old Gitone, whom a 17-year-old Max Born, looking young for his age, played as a thoroughly convincing and appreciative object of widespread pederastic lust. Included in Fellini’s rendition is the feast of the vulgar nouveau-riche Trimalcione, who shows off his 12-year-old slave-boy catamites to the chagrin of his fat, ex-prostitute wife.
Il fiore delle mille e una notte (Arabian Nights), Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italy, 1974, 130 minutes. A small selection of stories within stories from the mediaeval Arabic erotic classic, The Thousand Nights and One Night. Given Pasolini’s own sexual tastes, it is unsurprising that pederasty features prominently (together with an assumption faithful to pre-modern thinking that both women and boys are sexually appealing to men in general). The best is the tragic Tale of the Third Kalendar, a young man fated against his will to be the instrument of death for the boy with whom he is having a love affair.
The Genius and the Boys, Bosse Lindquist, Sweden, 2009, 79 minutes. Documentary made just before his death about American Nobel laureate Carleton Gajdusek, concentrating first on his important medical discoveries in New Guinea in the 1950s-70s and then his love-life in the USA with his Micronesian foster-sons (for which he was imprisoned). Lindquist copied Bashir's trick in Living with Michael Jackson, qv., winning his subject's trust through pretended understanding of his love of boys only to reveal his real hostility suddenly towards the end, sadly causing a deeply disillusioned Gajdusek to lose his cool.
Gossenkind (Streetchild), Peter Kern, Germany, 1991, 88 minutes. Asher Archive. Axel Glitter (Max), a boy prostitute of 14 in Düsseldorf, meets a new client, Karl Heinz Brenner (Winfried Glatzeder), they unexpectedly find themselves in love and have to run away together when suspicious neighbours call in the police.
Grace à Dieu (By the Grace of God), François Ozon, France, 2019, 137 minutes. In good timing with an unprecedented new wave of French intolerance in general, and towards pederasty in particular, “Alexandre, François and Emmanuel” (“bravely” shielding under pseudonyms) seek vengeance on Father Bernard Preynat through this lavishly-produced docudrama for what they have suddenly identified as sexual abuse of them as boys a generation earlier, and, despite their Catholic upbringing, are outraged to discover that forgiveness of sins has always been a central tenet of Christianity.
Guter Junge (A Good Boy), Torsten Fischer, Germany, tv, 2008, 90 minutes. Review. 17-year-old Sven (Sebastian Urzendowsky)’s father Achim is deeply shocked that his son has been videoing 13 or 14-year-old Patrick (Sandro Lohmann) flagrantly flirting with him. One might think the father’s overreaction of punching his son in the face and insulting him was an indictment of current hysteria were it not for the filmmaker relieving himself of the suspicion of heretical sympathy by ending his story with a jarringly discordant scene involving Sven trying to abduct a frightened 10-year-old on a train.
Happiness, Todd Solondz, USA, 1998, 134 minutes. Grim American black comedy about three sisters, one of whose husbands, psychiatrist Bill Maplewood (Dylan Baker), drugs and rapes their son’s 11-year-old classmate Johnny Grasso (Evan Silverberg) and another boy he hears is alone.
Hermes, Claudia Schillinger, Germany, tv, 1995, 26 minutes. Review. Documentary telling the challengingly juxtaposed stories of the film-maker herself, and of W. Hermes, a self-reflective pederast (narrated by an actor to preserve his anonymity) who explains his feelings for and conduct towards boys.
HerzHaft (Stout-Hearted), Martin Busker, Germany, 2007, 15 minutes. Felix (Ferdinand Hanisch), 15, is secretly having a love affair with his football coach, Ralph (Tommaso Cacciapuoti), 34, no problem until his mother finds out.
I Know My First Name is Steven, Larry Elikann, USA, tv, 1989, 180 minutes. The true story of Steven Stayner, a Californian boy kidnapped and kept for sex by Kenneth Parnell (Arliss Howard) from the age of seven (played by Luke Edwards) until he escaped when fourteen (played by Corin Nemec), focusing on the abduction and escape to the exclusion of the mystifying intervening years, but including the story of his cruel ostracism by his father and classmates on his return.
If …, Lindsay Anderson, Great Britain, 1968, 111 minutes. Asher Archive. A brilliant satire of English public school life, covering every important aspect of it. The homosexual side is captured with great accuracy and perception (and a little of the dark humour that characterises the rest of the film) through the affair of two boys, pretty blond Bobby Philips (Rupert Webster), aged about 14 and known as the “house tart” simply because his age and beauty make him the most obvious object of older boys’ lust, and kind Wallace (Richard Warwick), aged about 17. An early drawn-out scene in which Bobby admiringly watches Wallace in the gymn is very evocative of the emotions of the younger boy in pederasty. Later, they are shown asleep in bed together.
Jet Boy, Dave Schultz, Canada, 2001, 99 minutes. After 14-year-old boy prostitute Nathan (Branden Nadon)’s single mother dies, he flees the social services and manages to attach himself as travelling companion to decent but taciturn Boon Palmer (Dylan Walsh), met in a diner. Once they have drawn close, Nathan offers himself sexually in an obvious bid to bind Boon to him, but is rejected. A finely acted and convincing story is rather spoilt by a silly ending, in which the film-makers, perhaps to reassure viewers that their thinking is “correct”, have an abandoned Nathan reluctantly sell himself to a stereotypically monstrous pederast who is about to rape him when Boon, nearby through pure coincidence, comes to the rescue.
Le juge et l'assassin (The Judge and the Assassin), Bertrand Tavernier, France, 1976, 128 minutes. Asher Archive. Unscrupulously ambitious Judge Rousseau (Philippe Noiret) dupes Joseph Bouvier (Michel Galabru), a serial killer of boy and girl shepherds, into trusting in his good will, in order to gather evidence, dispel doubts as to his sanity and secure his condemnation to the guillotine. Set in the 1890s and closely based on the true story of the killer Joseph Vacher, the boys murdered are only shown in brief flashes and are only part of the story in that Bouvier has murdered them. Well-acted and directed.
The Kite Runner, Marc Forster, USA, 2007, 128 minutes. Based on a recent novel about Aghanistan and conveniently tainting the Americans’ new arch-foe, the Taliban with their most hated crime. In Kabul in 1978, ten-year-old Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) not only fails to come to the rescue of his loyal friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada) when he is raped by an older bully, Assef (Elham Ehsas), but, already tormented by guilt, compounds it by betrayal. In 2000, an adult Amir (Khalid Abdalla), now an American, hears that Hasan has been executed by the Taliban and his son Sohrab (Ali Danish Bakhtyari) taken to an orphanage, so he atones for the past by returning to Kabul to find him, and rescues him from the Taliban official who had taken him as his catamite and turns out to be the adult Assef (Abdul Salaam Yusoufzai).
Die Konsequenz (The Consequence), Wolfgang Petersen, West Germany, tv, 1977, 100 minutes. Screenplay based on an autobiographical novel. 15-year-old prison warder’s son Thomas (Ernst Hannawald) falls in love with prisoner Kurath (Jürgen Prochnow). On the latter’s release, Thomas tells his father, who tells him to go away and not come back. He leaves with Kurath, but the father has Thomas arrested and sent to a brutal reformatory. Kurath rescues him, but they are betrayed and the film ends with Thomas as a suicidal escapee from a psychiatric hospital.
Lakki – gutten som kunne fly (Lakki – The Boy Who Grew Wings), Svend Wam, Norway, 1992, 102 minutes. Asher Archive. The surreal tale of a 14-year-old boy, Lakki (Anders Borchgrevink), longing to escape his miserable circumstances which include being "sexually abused" by the gymn teacher his hopeless mother has taken as a lover, and hustling.
Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed, Great Britain/USA, tv, 2019, 236 minutes. Documentary about the sexual liaisons of the American singer Michael Jackson between 1988 and 1997 with two boys, Wade Robson, aged 7-14 and James Safechuck, aged 10-14. Consisting mostly of interviews of the two former boys, both of whom acknowledged having been in love with Jackson, Reed relies for his power to shock on the unquestioned assumptions that the boys “must have been” too young and that their deciding this, after years of defending him as adults, was therefore the realisation of obvious truth rather than the result of pressure to adopt society’s view (or to profit from it).
L.I.E., Michael Cuesta, USA, 2001, 97 minutes. After 15-year-old Howie Blizer (Paul Dano)’s mother dies, the lost boy joins a gang of four boys that rob houses in the middle-class neighborhoods off the Long Island Expressway of the title, including that of oldish big-hearted retired soldier and pederast “Big John” Harrigan (Brian Cox), who tracks him down and confronts him, but ends up coming to his emotional rescue, growing to love him without their ever quite having had sex, when he is suddenly murdered by a jealous youth.
La Mala educación (Bad Education), Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 2004, 106 minutes. Set in 1964-80 and with mostly obnoxious characters, the plot is so complicated as to be not worth explaining here, except to say that it includes Father Manolo (Daniel Giménez Cacho), the principal of a boys’ boarding school, catching pubescent Ignacio (Nacho Pérez) in a first love affair with a friend. Ignacio then gives himself sexually to the priest in return for his sparing his friend from punishment, leading much later to an interminable tale of blackmail.
Living with Michael Jackson, Julie Shaw, Great Britain, 2003, 110 minutes. Interviews over eight months of the famous singer by masterfully manipulative journalist Martin Bashir, who won Jackson's trust to gain unprecedented views into his private life, including his intimacy with boys, only to betray him at the end with unexpected and witheringly hostile questions about it (while falling short of suggesting the relationships were sexual, as many in fact were).
A Loving Friend, Kerry Negara, Australia, 2009, 46 minutes. A propagandist documentary about the sexual liaisons of Australian artist Donald Friend with boys in Bali in the 1960s, contriving to shame his friends and the artistic establishment for "double standards" in approving of him despite his supposedly being a "self-confessed pedophile" (actually he confessed only to being a pederast and that on the basis of an affair with a youth of 18). Dolog, the youngest lover mentioned by Friend himself, appears to say only that he minds his sex with Friend being exposed to the world's knowledge (it's apparently despicable of a library to publish this in written form, but fine for Negara to broadcast it with the addition of a live Dolog!).
Mandragora, Wiktor Grodecki, Bohemia, 1997, 126 minutes. Asher Archive. About the mental and physical decline of 15-year-old Marek (Miroslav Caslavka) who runs away from his village to Prague, where he and his new found friend David (David Svec) get involved in drugs and prostitutes themselves.
Maskarada, Bostjan Hladnik, Yugoslavia, 1971, 86 minutes. In order to facilitate an affair that she is having with much younger Luka, a married woman hires him as a tutor to her son of about 13, Andrej (Bojan Šetina), who develops an unreciprocated crush on him and therefore becomes jealous of his mother. Noticing this, a handsome friend of Luka in his early twenties makes tender love to the boy at a party.
Montreal Main, Frank Vitale, Canada, 1974, 88 minutes. Asher Archive. A story centred on two friends living in the bohemian arts community of Montreal, one of whom, Frank (played by the director), develops a close friendship with 12-year-old Johnny (John Sutherland), which attracts such suspicion and opposition, especially from Johnny’s pseudo-liberal parents, that Frank, also confused by his feelings caves in. Though man and boy clearly loved one another in some sense, and pederasty was suspected, it is debatable whether or not it is actually depicted.
Mysterious Skin, Gregg Araki, USA, 2004, 105 minutes. The lives of two 8-year-old Little League teammates, Neil McCormick and Brian Lackey, are changed one night in Kansas in 1981, when their coach has sex with them, though Brian has a memory blank and does not realise the truth until they meet again as adults. In the meantime, Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who viewed the sex as love, has grown up attracted to middle-aged men, beginning to prostitute himself at the age of 15.
Noordzee, Texas (North Sea Texas), Bavo Defurne, Belgium, 2011, 98 minutes. The search for love of lonely Pim (Jelle Florizoone), who lives with his negligent, divorced mother at the Belgian seaside. He first falls for a man called Zoltan, who is kind but ends up in bed with Pim’s mother instead, but then falls passionately in love with his best friend, 17-year-old Gino (Mathias Vergels), with whom he has a tempestuous affair due to Gino also having a girlfriend.
Not Angels But Angels, Wiktor Grodecki, Bohemia, 1994, 80 minutes. The first of a trilogy of one-sided depictions of Czech boy prostitutes as victims of evil men by this director, a documentary mostly consisting of interviews of hustlers aged 14 to 20.
Novecento (1900), Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy, 317 minutes. An epic tale of class struggle in Italy from 1901 to 1945 seen through the eyes of two childhood friends on opposing sides, including a scene in which a fascist foreman, Attila Mellanchini (Donald Sutherland), gruesomely murders a 12-year-old boy, Patrizio Avanzini, whom it is strongly implied he has just raped, so that he cannot bear witness against him.
Now That It's Morning, Neil Bartlett, Great Britain, 1992, tv, 11 minutes. Asher Archive. Set in London in the 1960s, a man in his forties faces opposition even from other homosexuals when he brings his 15-year-old boyfriend Ian (Nick Pickard) to a birthday party in a private club.
Obediencia perfecta (Perfect Obediance), Luis Urquiza, Mexico, 2014, 99 minutes. When 13-year-old Julian Santos (Sebastián Aguirre) is sent to live in a Mexican seminary, he is selected by its charismatic head, Padre Ángel de la Cruz (Juan Manuel Bernal), to be his personal disciple and, as it turns out, his catamite for the year. Loosely inspired by the true story of the Mexican priest and prolific pederast Father Marcial Maciel.
Ang pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros), Auraeus Sollito, Philippines, 2005, 100 minutes. In this intelligent and finely-acted story which undermines some common modern assumptions, Maxi (Nathan Lopez), a pretty and effeminate boy of 12, is torn between his love for a young policeman and his loyalty to the loving but criminal father and brothers with whom he lives in a Manila slum.
Pianese Nunzio, 14 anni a maggio (Sacred Silence), Antonio Capuano, Italy, 1996, 115 minutes. Asher Archive. Don Lorenzo Borrelli (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), a priest in a poor neighborhood in Naples, is dangerously outspoken against the Mafia, while having a warm and sexually-expressed friendship with handsome choir boy Nunzio Pianese (Emanuele Gargiulo), who, as the title of the film says, will not reach 14, the age of consent, until May. The consequences may be guessed.
The Police (Season 2: Episode 3 of the series Screen One), Ian Knox, Great Britain: BBC, tv, 1990, 85 minutes. Review. An ironic story in which a brilliantly manipulative boy of 11, Edgar (Guy Faulkner), forms a private police force out of his classmates, initially just to entrap bullies, but which goes on to cause the suicide of a teacher who had told Edgar off, Edgar successfully explaining the suicide to the real police as caused by the man’s attempted seduction of him. Though pederasty is not included, the film is included here for its important depiction of the effects of public hysteria about it.
Public Enemy No. 1 – The Man Who Killed a Hundred Boys, Great Britain, tv, 2001, ca. 60 minutes. Asher Archive. Documentary about the worst recorded serial killer of boys, the Pakistani Javed Iqbal Moghul, who confessed in 1999 to having raped, murdered and dismembered a hundred of them.
Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto? (What have I done to deserve this?), Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 1984, 101 minutes. Asher Archive. A black comedy about an overworked housewife in a suburb of Madrid, whose 12-year-old son Miguel (Miguel Ángel Herranz) has men lovers (to which she only objects that they don't feed him) and who successfully dictates the terms on which he goes to live with one of them, a dentist.
Queer as Folk, Charles McDougall, Sarah Harding & Menhaj Huda, Great Britain, tv, 1999-2000, 10 x 48 minutes. Television series about Manchester gays listed here because one of the three main characters, 15-year-old Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunnam) has sex with and remains lastingly in love with one of the others, 29-year-old Stuart Jones (Aidan Gillen). However, a relationship that might have truly pederastic in another era, has clearly here been subsumed into gay culture.
The Reckoning/El misterio de Wells, Paul McGuigan, Great Britain/Spain, 2003, 112 minutes. A murder mystery set in England in 1380, in which an itinerant band of players opt to stage a play based on the local case of a murdered boy, whom it becomes increasingly clear was killed not by the woman condemned for it, but by the local lord Robert de Guise (Vincent Cassel), who has been sodomising and murdering choice village boys for some time, thus demonstrating that moderns are correct to assume that murder, rape and pederasty are inextricably entwined.
Return to Innocence, Rocky Costanzo, USA, 2001, 98 minutes. After his mother is arrested for making and selling erotic videos of him, 13-year-old Tommy Jackson (Andrew Martin) is sent to a home and counselling centre for abused boys run by respected psychiatrist Glen Erskine (Richard Meese), where he recovers until the nature of the love he shares with one of his counselors is discovered and their relationship is destroyed. Tommy blames Erskine for this and strikes back by accusing him of molesting him, setting the stage for a harrowing courtroom drama.
Satyricon, Gian Luigi Polidoro, Italy, 1969, 120 minutes. Asher Archive. A bawdier, cruder and even less faithful version of Petronius’s Roman novel than Fellini Satyricon, which it was rushed into being released before, it similarly centres on the rivalry of two youths, Encolpio (Don Backy) and Ascilto (Franco Fabrizi) for faithless 14-year-old Gitone, here played by correctly-aged, handsome Francesco Pau (leading to fines for corruption of minors).
Sleepers, Barry Levinson, USA, 1996, 147 minutes. Review. After a lark goes horribly wrong and injures a man, four American friends aged 12-15 are condemned to imprisonment in the Wilkinson Home for Boys in upstate New York, 1967-8, where they are beaten and raped by sadistic guards. Thirteen years later, they, now in diverse occupations, successfully seek their revenge.
Smukke Dreng (Pretty Boy), Carsten Sønder, Denmark, 1993, 86 minutes. Asher Archive. Neglected, fatherless and feeling unwanted, pretty 13-year-old Nick (Christian Tafdrup), runs away to Copenhagen. There he brings the empied wallet of robbed professor of astronomy Ralph (Stig Hoffmeyer) to him and, finding mutual ties in the stars, a liaison ensues until Ralph’s girlfriend turns up and he kicks the boy out. Nick joins a gang of hustlers, and finds a girlfriend, whose jealousy when Ralph turns up wanting Nick back sets the scene for a final tragedy.
Das Sommerhaus (The Summer House), Curtis Burz, Germany, 2014, 95 minutes. A middle-class family living in the outskirts of Berlin implodes when the father, architect Markus Larsen (Sten Jacobs), neglects his wife to lust after his daughter's 12-year-old schoolfriend Johannes Degenhardt (Jaspar Fuld), who sees an opportunity to help his own indebted father through blackmail.
Song for a Raggy Boy, Aisling Walsh, Ireland, 2003, 94 minutes. Courageous, kind and good-looking William Franklin (Aidan Quinn) returns to Ireland from the Spanish civil war in 1939 to take up a post as first-ever lay teacher in a strict Catholic Reformatory school for boys and soon clashes with the cruel Brothers who run the school. Evil Brother Mac (Marc Warren) mercilessly buggers Patrick Delaney (Chris Newman) a sobbing new boy of 13, in the school lavatory. The boy tells a priest in confession, but though he is told to keep quiet, word reaches Brother Mac, who forces him into a cold shower and throws his clothes in after him. Brother Mac’s misdeeds being known to arch-villain Brother John, he becomes complicit in the latter’s outrages, culminating in a murder which finally allows heroic Franklin to drive the two culprits from the school. A stereotypically negative depiction of pederasty at its worst in a generally fine and moving film. Based on a book and allegedly true events.
Le Souffle au Coeur (Murmur of the Heart), Louis Malle, France/West Germany/Italy, 1971, 118 minutes. Asher Archive. The coming-of-age story of 14-year-old Dijon schoolboy Laurent Chevalier (Benoît Ferreux). Though his sexual adventures range from losing his virginity with a prostitute to sleeping with his mother, the only brief pederastic incident occurs when his confessor at school, Father Henri (Michael Lonsdale), strokes his leg whilst warning him against the sin of masturbation.
Spotlight, Tom McCarthy, USA, 2015, 129 minutes. The story of the investigations in 2001-2 by a team of The Boston Globe’s journalists into allegations of sexual abuse of boys by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston archdiocese and the cover-up of these allegations by two successive archbishops.
Telo bez duse (Body without Soul), Wiktor Grodecki, Bohemia, tv, 1996, 94 minutes. Asher Archive. Documentary about boy prostitutes aged 15-18 in Prague, taking a very grim view of their situation and prospects.
To Serve Them All My Days: Part Nine, Peter Jefferies, Great Britain: BBC, tv, 1980, 52 minutes. The television series follows the career of David Powlett-Jones (John Duttine) as schoolmaster and finally headmaster at a boys’ boarding school in Devon. In the episode under consideration, set in the 1930s, to the general consternation of both the boys and the other masters, the strict and priggish new headmaster, Alcock (Charles Kay), cracks down on older boys “publicly consorting” with younger ones, demanding that they be reported to him by the housemasters, at least three of whom refuse to co-operate, asserting that none of the friendships in their houses are “unhealthy”. The retired headmaster shows a fine understanding and approval of the complementary emotions involved in special friendships, while pointing out that they could become “a little over-heated”.
Total Eclipse, Agnieszka Holland, Poland, 1995, 111 minutes. A historically accurate account of the passionate love affair between French poets Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis), begun when the 16-year-old Rimbaud came by invitation to live in Verlaine’s home in Paris in 1871 and finally coming to a violent end 21 months later.
Unzucht – Ermittlungen im Fall H. (Unchastity – Investigations in the Case of H.), Peter Aschwanden, Switzerland, tv, 1992, 67 minutes. Review. Documentary profile of the Swiss boy-lover Daniel Hartmann and his grim fate when his liaisons were exposed, including the story of two 13-year-olds among his boy “victims” who organised a petition by his contacts saying he had not harmed them, and even some parents who came to his defence.
Vatel, Roland Joffé, France/Great Britain, 2000, 103 minutes. Gérard Depardieu plays heroic François Vatel, Master of Festivities and Pleasures to the Prince of Condé in his Château de Chantilly in 1671, when the King, Louis XIV, and his entourage visit for several days. Amongst other things showing the high-handed and spoilt manner with which the high aristocracy are depicted as treating humbler folk (leading ultimately to Vatel’s despair and suicide), is an incident in which Vatel’s good-looking kitchen boy, aged about 12, is selected as “a boy who might do” as page and implicit catamite for the King’s brother “Monsieur”, until Vatel comes valiantly to the rescue. Popular hatred of pederasty today is thus made to serve as a useful stick for attacking the ancient regime, though in reality there are no grounds for supposing Monsieur was high-handed in his conduct towards boys (see the letters of his wife Liselotte, as the main source on this point).
Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes, Great Britain, 1998, 118 minutes. A journalist investigates the career of 1970s superstar Brian Slade, who, as a man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is apparently paid with a watch by a schoolboy of about 14 to pedicate him, while, in another brief scene, Slade's lover (when both were men), Curt Wild, is depicted aged 13 (and played by Daniel Adams) as willingly "servicing" his elder brother, for which he is sent off for electric shock therapy.
The Victors, Carl Foreman, USA, 1963, 175 minutes. A war film following a group of American soldiers from Britain in 1942 through fighting in Italy and France to the occupation of Berlin, including a usually-cut episode in which the platoon unofficially adopt a French orphan of 11, Jean-Pierre (Joël Flateau) who propositions them, having survived the German occupation by prostituting himself.
La ville dont le prince est un enfant (The Fire That Burns), Christophe Malavoy, France, tv, 1997, 91 minutes. In this powerful adaptation of a 1951 play by pederast Henry de Montherlant, André Sevrais (Naël Marandin), about 16, becomes loving friends with the younger Serge Souplier (Clément van den Bergh), about 12, at their Catholic boys' school in Paris, arousing the jealousy of Abbot de Pradts (played by the director), who is enamoured of Serge and hypocritically gets André removed from the school for Serge’s supposed protection.
La virgen de los sicarios (Our Lady of the Assassins), Barbet Schroeder, Colombia/Spain/France, 2000, 101 minutes. Returning to his home city of Medellin in Colombia in the 1990s, and after thirty years' absence, Fernando (Germán Jaramillo), a writer in his 50s, finds it transformed by violence which takes the lives of the two mid-teen boy prostitutes/contract killers, Alexis (Anderson Ballesteros) and Wilmar (Juan David Restrepo), with whom in turn he has love affairs.
Vito e gli altri (Vito and the Others), Antonio Capuano, Italy, 1991, 83 minutes. A story of crime and juvenile destitution in Naples: when 12-year-old Vito (Nando Triola)'s despairing father gives himself up after murdering Vito's mother, Vito and his friends resort to drugs, self-prostitution and petty crime.
Voor een Verloren Soldaat (For a Lost Soldier), Roeland Kerbosch, Netherlands, 1992, 92 minutes. In 1944, 12-year-old Jeroen (Maarten Smit) is sent to the countryside to escape the effects of the war in Amsterdam. When his village is liberated by Canadian troops, he is proud to be befriended by a young Canadian soldier, Walt Cook (Andrew Kelley), and they become lovers just before Walt’s unit is moved away without his saying good-bye. The devastated boy’s sense of loss is well conveyed, but though the story has been amended from the autobiographical novel on which it is based to make Walt’s conduct more palatable, he remains guilty of what has probably in reality been the most common wrong done to boys by their lovers: abandonment when needed.
Whole New Thing, Amnon Buchbinder, Canada, 2006, 92 minutes. When 13-year-old boy, Emerson Thorsen (Aaron Webber)’s counter-cultural parents decide he needs to go to school, instead of his homeschooling hitherto, the unconventional and intellectual boy falls in love with his teacher, 43-year-old Don Grant (Daniel MacIvor), and, having been brought up shielded from social norms, sees no reason not to act on his feelings, while the lonely but frightened man is determined not to cross permitted boundaries.
Alphabetical listing by English names of films with other names in their original languages
Arabian Nights: Il fiore delle mille e una notte
Bad Education: La Mala educación
The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros: Ang pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros
Body without Soul: Telo bez duse
By the Grace of God: Grace à Dieu
A Child in the Crowd: Un enfant dans la foule
The Conformist: Il Conformista
The Consequence: Die Konsequenz
The Fire That Burns: La ville dont le prince est un enfant
For a Lost Soldier: Voor een Verloren Soldaat
The Friends: Les amis
A Good Boy: Guter Junge
The Judge and the Assassin: Le juge et l'assassin
Lakki – The Boy Who Grew Wings: Lakki – gutten som kunne fly
Murmur of the Heart: Le Souffle au Coeur
North Sea Texas: Noordzee, Texas
Our Lady of the Assassins: La virgen de los sicarios
Pretty Boy: Smukke Dreng
Private Lessons: Élève libre
Sacred Silence: Pianese Nunzio, 14 anni a maggio
The Summer House: Das Sommerhaus
This Special Friendship: Les amitiés particulières
Unchastity – Investigations in the Case of H.: Unzucht – Ermittlungen im Fall H.
Vito and the Others: Vito e gli altri
What have I done to deserve this?: Qué he hecho yo para merecer esto?
You are Not Alone: Du er ikke alene