PROTEUS

By John GREYSON, Jack LEWIS

HORIZON MOTION PICTURES - as SALES All rights, World

Drama - Completed 2003

Based on a true story, a young man is sentenced to hard labor on Robben Island , Cape Town 's harsh penal colony, and begins a love affair that transgresses vast cultural taboos.

    • Year of production
    • 2003
    • Genres
    • Drama
    • Countries
    • SOUTH AFRICA, CANADA
    • Languages
    • ENGLISH
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 100 mn
    • Director(s)
    • John GREYSON, Jack LEWIS
    • Writer(s)
    • John GREYSON, Jack LEWIS
    • Producer(s)
    • Steven MARKOVITZ, Anita LEE, Platon TRAKOSHIS
    • Synopsis
    • In 1725, a young Khoi herder Claas Blank is sentenced to hard labour on Robben Island , Cape Town 's penal colony. The prison garden is run by Virgil Niven , an English botanist who is naming and cultivating South In 1725, a young Khoi herder Claas Blank is sentenced to hard labour on Robben Island , Cape Town 's penal colony. The prison garden is run by Virgil Niven , an English botanist who is naming and cultivating South African protea species for the European market. Niven is entranced by the quick-witted Blank, and the youth soon finds ways to manipulate the repressed botanist, exchanging native lore for guilders and favours.
      Blank works alongside a Dutch sailor, Rijkhaart Jacobsz, who is serving time for sodomy. Despite mutual prejudices, the two prisoners are strongly attracted to each other and begin a tentative affair, accidentally witnessed by Niven. Their affair transgresses vast cultural taboos, and unleashes confused feelings of desire and jealousy that neither have a name for. Niven returns to Amsterdam , but he and Blank obsess about each other long-distance, constructing fantasies about each others lives from the few scraps they've gleaned.
      A decade passes, and the prison authorities continue to ignore the ongoing 'friendship' of Blank and Jacobsz. Then Niven returns to the Cape , fleeing a sodomy scandal in Amsterdam , where 70 men (including his partner Ourens) were tried and garrotted in the city square. His return is catastrophic, inadvertently triggering the arrest of Blank and Jacobsz on sodomy charges. Niven makes a desperate intervention to the court, intent on saving Blank, but the herder refuses to play along. For the first time in his life, Blank tells the truth -- for the first time he names his feelings for the Dutch sailor.
      Based on a true story and developed from the Middle Dutch transcript of the 1735 sodomy trial.
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