This article presents a study of Philippe Vallois's 1976 gay film Johan: Mon été 75, the only French film from the period that directly and explicitly represents gay male sexuality and its urban milieu, Paris. Johan tells the story of a filmmaker (played by Vallois) who intends to make a movie starring his lover, Johan. Unfortunately, Johan is imprisoned for various reasons and is unavailable to perform in the movie. The film thus becomes Vallois's search for the ideal Johan, rendered through a range of men whom he auditions to play the role. We meet the multiple Johans through a series of dance and sexual performances as well as personal interviews with the director that often evolve into sexual encounters. Drawing on the formal structures identified with French New Wave filmmakers such as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean Rouch, and Edgar Morin and with the classical Hollywood musical, Vallois creates a cinematic experience that merges historical film aesthetics with the late 1960s and early 1970s homosexual movement unfolding in France. Through a self-conscious film-within-a-film narrative, Johan provocatively commingles several genre forms (documentary, the musical, pornography) with New Wave cinematic aesthetics (jump cuts, an interrupted sound track, a revealed apparatus). It is a remarkable film for its sexual forthrightness as well as the value Vallois places on cinematic form. Johan is a dynamic text particularly when read through the contemporaneous political and theoretical interventions posed by, especially, Guy Hocquenghem. Viewed through the lens of the complex relationship between French universalism and contemporary French queer culture, Johan is all the more radical and unique for its very direct gay stance.
David A. Gerstner; Choreographing Homosexual Desire in Philippe Vallois's Johan. Camera Obscura 1 December 2013; 28 (3 (84)): 125–157. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2352176
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