703 AD. Two pilloried convicts shipwreck on a desert island. Zaharias is a peaceful beekeeper, falsely convicted. Justinian is the Emperor of Byzantium, dethroned and mutilated: his nose is cut off. Humble man and fallen god are desperate, unable to use their hands and ready to die, but their encounter gives them hope. Zaharias becomes the Emperor's only soldier in a mission to escape the island and reclaim what's theirs. For Justinian it's his throne, for Zaharias his beehives. As they face hunger, snakes and sea currents, Zaharias's unconditional goodness irritates the Emperor, who in turn educates him on the virtues of power. They end up lost, dehydrated and delirious. Hierarchies fall apart, and the beekeeper questions the way he lives his life, embraces his repressed anger and loses his nose. Justinian is close to dying, but the throne is not lost! With his education complete, the noseless beekeeper sails towards his royal fate under a new name: Justinian.
I had never dreamt of making a historical film. Until I stumbled upon an image of a pillory. This simple medieval punishment contains all the cruelty and ridiculousness the human mind can produce. So, a piece of wood encouraged me to dig into the history of Byzantium, an era filled with war, religion and grotesque politics, only to discover that in time appearances may change but people remain the same. Glory B turns the real story of Emperor Justinian II into a minimalist, existential comedy that explores the timeless paradox of power. The film’s characters propose two opposing views on life. The Emperor believes in forcing your will onto the world and creating your destiny. The Beekeeper simply tries to be good. Their partnership makes Glory B a byzantine buddy-movie. Alternating between the mystical visuals of religious painting and the rawness of documentary, the film builds a playful language where opposites meet: mythology and realism, drama and comedy, spirituality and blasphemy.
All the updates once a month in your mailbox, subscribe to the TFL newsletter.