Reviews and comment from the Demon Crew - creative writers at De Montfort University, Leicester.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

"We're all doomed"

These were the words with which The Daily Mail greeted the release of controversial film Victim in 1961. John Coldstream gave a fascinating insight into the film and its context in this Cultural eXchanges event. The film tells the story of Melville Farr, a man who finds himself in trouble he couldn't have imagined after being involved in a homosexual affair with the younger "Boy Barrett", who commits suicide after blackmailers begin to intrude on their secret relationship. in the era when the film was made, homosexual relationships were illegal.

Even more shocking than the film itself, however, is the story behind it. Coldstream presented us with an opening clip of Dirk Bogarde who discussed the trouble agreeing to the role of a homosexual man at that time caused him, even with his own family - but he admitted that he had no regrets as he chose his parts on the basis of excitement and challenge. In the real world, the homophobic society surrounding Victim's release couldn't believe it, having never seen the topic covered in a serious light before. The Daily Mail weren't the only ones to cite its potential influence as dangerous either. Others named it an "irresponsible melodrama".

But ultimately, the struggle to sell the concept paid off, and as stated by Coldstream Victim was hugely influential in the passing of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which was an enormous step in accepting homosexuality. Furthermore, it made the topic acceptable to treat the subject seriously.

However, the discussion left us to consider the question of whether, though society's views have become more enlightened, the UK. still suffers from homophobia. The release of Victim has certainly played its part in the battle.

George Forster

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