Proteus (2003)

Film details


Based on archive material and translated from High Dutch into English and Afrikaans, the story is set in 1715 on the former penal colony of Robben Island. It documents the sexual relationship between two prisoners - a Khoisan sheep herder and a Dutch sailor. Condoned at the time by the prison wardens, the situation changed when Holland underwent a morality backlash and the two prisoners had to endure the wrath of the authorities. The title of the film refers not only to the Greek God of the same name but also to South Africa's national flower, the Protea. This relates to a major sub-theme of the film, that of "labelling" different types of people as one of the plots in the film has a botanist who has come to South Africa to categorise flowers.

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top