“Edward II”–a different version

“Edward II”

A Different Version

Amos Lassen

Out from Warner Brothers is a new and different version of Christopher Marlowe’s “Edward II”. Do not be confused, this is not the Derek Jarman film but a film adaptation originally broadcast by the BBC. It stars Ian McKellen and James Laurenson and was filmed almost 40 years ago. The production was hailed by the critics and it caused quite a sensation in the way it portrayed the king’s sexuality and it provided the first kiss by two men ever to seen on British television.
What is surprising is how modern Marlowe’s play is even though in actuality it is over 400 years old. Edward had a flawed rule and that is not only because he, himself, was flawed but his reign had to deal with civil war. What ultimately turned the nobles against him was not his ineptitude to rule but his Edward’s sex life. The play begins when the king’s favorite courtier, Gavezton, returns from having been exiled and his open declaration of love for Edward. His decision and refusal to give his love up is what provides the heart of the play and the tragedy that follows. The film is wonderfully acted and remains contemporary. It is a wonderful look at the way modern gay cinema began.

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