Ahead of the screening of Querelle on Thursday 2 May, the ICA's Associate Curator of Artists' Film and Moving Image Steven Cairns spoke to Beige magazine about this little-seen queer cinema classic.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a German film director, screenwriter and actor, and his final film, based on Jean Genet's Querelle de Brest (1947), stars Brad Davis as a sailor caught in the throes of love and hate. Released shortly after Fassbinder’s death, Querelle's visually stunning cinematography, costumes and set design stand the test of time three decades on.
What is the story of Querelle?
Brad Davis, famous for his leading role in the 1978 film Midnight Express, stars as sailor Georges Querelle, in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s queer-cinema classic. Qurelle’s ship, the Vengeur lands in the town of Brest and this is where the story is set, in and around the bar and brother Feria. In just over 100 minutes his life and lovers are intertwined in a complex network of seduction, envy, murder and sex. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s all in there!
How close is the story to Genet’s book?
Fassbinder stays true to much of Genet’s book Querelle of Brest, which was first published anonymously in 1947. Querelle the film offers what any book can’t – the visuals. The highly stylised outfits and set pieces, complete with phallic symbolism, give the film the feel of a campy theatrical production.
Read the rest of the interview on the Beige website.
Querelle screens at the ICA on Thursday 2 May at 8.30pm.