My Film World: Vampires and Violets: Lesbians In Film

This will be a rather quick post as I am pressed for time, but I just wanted to take a moment to make note of a book I read recently concerning the image of lesbians in world cinema.  The book titled Vampires and Violets: Lesbians In Film From The Crossdressing Stars, Dietrich and Garbo, To The Vampires Of The Late 60's, To Silkwood And The Color Purple.  The title itself is rather all encompassing, which nicely reflects the broad nature of the piece.  Author, Andrea Weiss, better known for her documentary After Stonewall, takes great care to discuss both the blatant and repressed images of lesbians in film.  The work is concise and approachable and truly considers what actresses were projecting in their roles, as well as approaching the notion of what gay women would have felt watching these projected images.  Perhaps the best part of the entire work though is Weiss's persistence in being extremely critical of the imagery she discusses.  Instead of simply noting the existence of such films, Weiss intensively breaks down the problems and products of each image, often arguing that even the most liberal of lesbian imagery is entrenched within patriarchal oppression.  Fortunately, Weiss finds optimism in the films closing chapter as she discusses the power experimental films have had in the previous two decades.  It is an honest read that is neither preachy nor indifferent.  I cannot recommend it enough, snag your own copy and enjoy.

   (Su Friedrich's 1987 film Damned If You Don't receives heavy discussion from Weiss, and deservedly so because it is a truly intense portrait of repressed lesbianism.)

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