"Feels like an actual expression of transporting ecstasy, appreciating nudity and the fleshiness of bodies so much that it actually transmutes into a kind of worship." -Tim Brayton, Alternate Ending
Derek Jarman's feature film debut is a one-of-a-kind historical drama which lays bare the latent homoeroticism that has always lurked beneath the glossy surface of Hollywood biblical epics. Telling the story of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian in the same way that Italian Renaissance painters used the image of Sebastian to eroticize the male nude, Jarman depicts both earthly lust and spiritual yearning.
Stripped of rank and exiled to a remote Sardinian outpost, Roman soldier and suspected Christian Sebastian becomes the object of his commanding officer aggressive desire. As Sebastian turns his back on his fellow soldiers in favor of his own mystical longings, the sun-bleached Mediterranean idyll becomes a psycho-sexual hothouse where lust sets the stage for a shocking tableau of death and martyrdom.
Audaciously spoken in Latin and supported by one of cult composer Brian Eno's best music scores, the film is both a milestone of British independent film and a pioneering work of queer cinema.