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Broughton, James (1913-1999)  
page: 1  2  

The Gardener of Eden (1981) is a brief document of his honeymoon with lover and frequent collaborator Joel Singer. The film was shot in Sri Lanka, and is typical in its treatment of the transporting beauty of nature and its positioning of the person as a fundamental part of it.

Two years later, in 1983, he made the masterful Devotions, also with Singer. Set in San Francisco and featuring a shimmering gamelan orchestra background, the film imagines an ecstatic world in which men are freed from tired, joyless convention. Broughton again appears as the sweet seer, playing a pipe, seducing his players into scintillating tableaux of union. His mostly naked men spend their time in loving embrace, washing each other, caressing, kissing.

Broughton's wit is never far away from his erotic celebrations: in one scene two men kiss on a rooftop, then slowly don nuns' habits and saunter away in the fading day. Later, a pair of leather queens whip up a soufflé. Without being the least bit polemical, this graceful film, like all his work, shows the sweet rewards that come from living authentically and, above all, joyfully.

Brougton died of heart failure on May 17, 1999 in Port Townsend, Washington, in the arms of his lover Joel Singer and in the company of two close friends. He was 85.

Gary Morris

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Broughton, James. Ecstasies. Mill Valley, Calif.: Syzygy Press, 1983.

______. Coming Unbuttoned: A Memoir. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1993.

Elder, R. Bruce. A Body of Vision: Representations of the Body in Recent Film and Poetry. Waterloo, Ont.: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1998.

Sheehy, T. "Celebration; Four Films by James Broughton." Film Quarterly 29.4 (Summer 1976): 2-14.

Sitney, P. Adams. Visionary Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.


    Citation Information
    Author: Morris, Gary  
    Entry Title: Broughton, James  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated January 9, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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