In the previous article we talked about films centered around passion and drama, now let’s continue with the ones that are considered to be the first pioneers of LGBTQ+ movies. All in all: less visual experience, intense love, real eroticism, dramatic self-identity crisis and excitement.
Good quality first generation lesbian films are hard to find, mostly because similar works that followed them have crammed them into the internet’s subconscious. Yet without these classics, the example-showing, coming-out inspiring films that helped more women reclaim their identities than the directors could ever have dreamed of, would never have been made.
Desert Hearts, 1985
Yes, 1985! This film, having been made before the golden age of technology, gives a pretty unusual visual experience to those viewers who are used to watching films made in the green box. Still today, it’s considered an epoch-making creation, if not for other reasons, just because of the bed scene.
With a little exaggeration it’s perhaps the first film that reflects on the process of recognizing "otherness", the re-evaluation of self-identity and self-reliance, and the existence of a viable relationship between two women in a relevant way. The film, set in the 50’s USA revealed all the taboos of the era and launched an avalanche of lesbian-themed movies.
You’re in for 87 minutes of nerve-wrenching drama if you’re willing to sacrifice the visuals for a deep, meaningful plot.
Better Than Chocolate, 1999
A decade later, lesbian-themed filmmaking hit a milestone again, this time with Better Than Chocolate. Not because it was the best film ever made, but because it was the one that showed on screen with the most honesty what probably most of us have experienced once: the hiding of a lesbian relationship and the excited nervousness that comes with it.
The film can’t show anything new in its category anymore, but at that time it uncovered the struggle of thousands. The story is very typical, the boyish looking Kim, and Maggie, who doesn’t want to tell her family about being “different”, fall in love. Their life together soon gets threatened when Maggie’s mom and sibling move in with them forcing her to choose between living her life in a lie or admitting who she really is. It’s a nice story about love, acceptance, loss and happiness.
Boys Don't Cry, 1999
...but you will definitely do. Just as there was one among the previous four films, this time this is the ‘must see’, which everyone should watch regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Boys Don’t Cry stands out from the other films on the list, because it doesn’t have a lesbian theme in the classical sense, but it gives the audience a glimpse into a world that only a few people get to see.
The film, based on a true story, shows the despised-by-many trans subculture bluntly, with all its anxiety, self-hatred and struggles.
The heartbreaking story of Brandon Teena is the journey of a person who can’t fit in a limited world of personality, self-acceptance and acceptance by others, biological sex, social class and violence. A thought-provoking and really deep work.
You’ll definitely cry your eyes out so it’s not the best choice as a date night movie!
Loving Annabelle, 2006
A fantastic story about love, all-consuming desire and the fight in a woman’s soul that is sometimes bigger than World War II, especially if if love stands in the crossfire of religion and social expectations.
The on-screen work is pretty impressive: lust and the pulsating of emotions that are about to erupt are seeping through every picture frame. The only thing that overshadows the renown of the film is that this storyline has been written so many times before, though not from such a perspective.
An easy watch spiced up with drama and some massive stereotypes. Have fun!
Translated by Ibolya Nagy