Jul 3, 2014

The Victorian Lusts of "Angels and Insects"

Do you want to see Douglas Henshall, the hunk of the British sci-fi series Primeval, nude and fully aroused?

Are you sure?  The scene is in a rather disturbing movie.

Ok, then.  Let's begin.

William Adamson (Mark Rylance) has been studying insects in the Amazon.  He returns to stuffy, repressed, Victorian England, and has trouble re-adjusting.  The wealthy Sir Harald Alabaster (Jeremy Kemp) invites him to come live on his estate, catalog his insect collection, and teach his children about the wonders of nature.

The estate is full of dark, brooding people who dress like insects.  Like all Victorians, they have lots of secrets and repressed sexual desires.  But not the interesting desires that lead to gay romance.  Something else altogether.

Adamson becomes infatuated with the "stunning" Eugenia, who just lost her husband to suicide.  She returns the interest, and they have energetic sex, and finally marry.

By the way, the sex involves Eugenia completely nude, frontal and all, but only Adamson's torso, although you can see that he is aroused, standing at attention beneath the bedclothes.

That part is impressive, but otherwise Mark Rylance is scrawny, with no muscles at all.  He was only 35 years old in 1995, but he seems much older.

They have five children, whom Adamson doesn't care for.

Eventually he discovers the reason: they aren't his (see, you can only have an emotional bond with children who are your biological progeny.  Bad luck for gay adoption!).

 Eugenia has been having a long-term affair with her older brother Edgar (Douglas Henshall).

Everyone else on the estate knows, and has been trying to inform Adamson in cleverly veiled ways.  But he only discovers by breaking into the bedroom while they're having sex (Henshall was fully aroused by accident, but director Philip Haas decided to keep the scene instead of reshooting).

Adamson decides that he has had enough of human society.  He leaves his wife and kids and returns to the Amazon, accompanied by the governess Matty, who was in love with him all along.

Need a shower yet?

The movie, by the way, is Angels and Insects (1995).  The original story was written by A.S. Byatt, who also wrote the homophobic Possession (1990), about closeted lesbians in Victorian England. No homophobia here, just the vagaries of heterosexual lust.