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Lord Of The Ants, Weird Name For A Queer Classic



Lord Of The Ants

Lord Of Ants

Directed  by Gianni Amelio

Rating: *** ½

Just because the film’s protagonist  Aldo Braibanti  is  a  myrmecologist,  it doesn’t follow that the  film should have  its title dedicated to ants. Aldo was  a lot of other things, an academician , a playwright, thinker.

He  was  also gay in the Italy of the 1960s  which made  him a sitting target for  the Fascist regime. They  hounded and  persecuted  him.

Aldo didn’t defend  himself in court. He  didn’t  need to. Only the guilty need to speak. The charge  against  Aldo of having sex with two of his male students didn’t stick.  As played by the Italian actor  Luigi Lo Cascio, Aldo  Braibanti is  a man of  firm convictions. He  is not afraid  of being convicted  for unnatural  sexual practices.His silences speak louder than words.

What, he says,  could be more natural than  love? The object  of his adoration is his handsome  student Ettore Tagliaferri(played by Leonardo Maltese with a  skilled synthesis  of yearning and wisdom) who is dragged  out of bed from his mentor’s  home , institutionalized  and  subjected to brutal electric shocks,  with his  mother’s approval, if you will .She hopes these shocks would “cure” her son. Other shocks await him, and she.

Lord  Of The Ants  is not only about intellectuals and homosexuals. It is also about mothers  and their  conditional/unconditional  love. While Aldo’s mother loves him unconditionally  and accepts  him for what  he is, Ettore’s mother  fights against his natural impulses.

Women play an important part in this tender, harsh brutal and brittle  film on  gay love. Not only the two  mothers of the homosexual couple, but also Sara Serraiocco as a journalist and a gay rights’ activist who stands up for Aldo to be released from imprisonment.

This brings me  to the  character of the charismatic behatted journalist Ennio Scribani(Elio Germano) who fights his  magazine editor to print  stories why Aldo Braibanti  had ever right to what he wanted to do in  the privacy of his home.This character is  way too cinematic, much too  convenient  peg to hang the plot’s liberalism.

At times The Lord Of  The Ants reminded me  of Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh.  But most of the time, this is a fiercely independent film, liberated  of  the tropes that accompany queer cinema.

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