From the early 1920s to the late 1950s, homosexuality was only understood through the propagation of preconceptions and the reinforcement of stereotypes through innuendos. Homosexuals were thought to have feminine characteristics such being soft-spoken, moving in a “dainty” manner, or being physically weaker than the male protagonist. In 1980, the film “Cruising” was released, which presented a murdering psychopath in an S&M New York milieu where there was a direct link between gay insinuations and criminal activity.
This list examines the films that affected the public’s perception of LGBTQ issues in the twentieth century, including a wide range of topics related to queerness.
Table of Contents
1. Un Chant D’Amour (1950)
Director- Jean Genet
Within the constraints of their solitary cells, inmates in a French jail are attempting to meet their sexual and emotional demands. Two convicts in neighbouring cells, in particular, aim to create physical and emotional connections with each other in whatever manner they can. They get so engross in the joy they gain from that connection in their present try that they fail to realise. A voyeuristic guard has been monitoring them via the small peep holes in their otherwise sturdy cell doors. One of the two men trying to pass a bouquet of wild flowers to the other via their barred cell windows alerted the guard to the activities.
2. Madchen In Uniform (1931)
Director- Leontine Sagan
Manuela is a strong-will adolescent who goes to a boarding school when her mother dies. The school is under the authority like an iron fist by the Prussian principal. She believes that discipline and hunger build a girl’s character. Manuela develops a crush on Elizabeth Von Bernburg. A young teacher who believes it is vital to be the children’s trustable friend, much like the other girls. Manuela makes the blunder of declaring her love in front of guests and kids at a celebration after a school play. How will Manuela get under discipline by the principle? How will Fraulein Von Bernberg, Manuela, and the other girls react to his decisions?
3. The Children’s Hour (1961)
Director- William Wyler
Karen Wright and Martha Dobie have been close friends since high school. They own the boarding school Wright and Dobie School for Girls, which has twenty students. As headmistresses and teachers, they are working hard to expand the school and make it profitable. Karen is dating Joe Cardin, a local doctor who is the nephew of Mrs. Amelia Tilford, a powerful and influential woman. While Mary, Amelia’s granddaughter and a terrible influence on the other girls, gets punishment by Karen for lying. Martha is having a fight with her nosy aunt Lily Mortar in another room. Martha gets accuse by Lily of being envious of Karen and having an inappropriate relationship with her.
Rosalie Wells, Mary’s roommate, overhears the yelling and informs Mary of Mrs. Mortar’s remarks about her niece. Mary accuses Karen and Martha of being lesbians in front of her grandmother. Amelia spreads the rumour to the parents of the pupils, causing them to drop out. Karen and Martha’s life gets ruin after they lose a case against Amelia. Karen also cancels her engagement with Joe after he inquires about what did she say about Martha and her. The deception leads to tragedy.
4. Death In Venice (1971)
Director- Luchino Visconti
Gustav von Aschenbach is a Munich origin composer of experimental music in the early twentieth century. He gets marry formerly and has a daughter. He is now a fragile middle-age guy in poor health, and his doctor advises him to rest completely. As a result, he is recuperating alone at the Grand Hotel on the Lido in Venice. He and his friend Alfred have had numerous philosophical discussions regarding the concept of beauty. Not only in relation to his underappreciated music, but also in relation to the arts and life in general. Gustav believes that one might get dominate by the nature of beauty on a scientific rather than an emotional level.
He develops a crush on Tadzio, a Polish adolescent staying at the motel with his sisters and mother. Gustav’s encounters with Tadzio are mostly brief yet strong glances from afar. With no words spoken between them, Gustav confesses to himself that his passion has transformed into love. On an emotional level, he is torn by his emotions. First attempting to flee physically, then doing everything he can to avoid Tadzio’s gaze. What happens between Gustav and Tadzio get under influence by circumstances beyond their control.
5. Pink Flamingos (1972)
Director- John Waters
Divine is forced to go underground after an in-depth cover storey runs in one of the nation’s sleaziest tabloids, revelling in her indisputable popularity as the filthiest person alive. Divine, who has a new look and goes by the name Babs Johnson, is locked up in her inconspicuous hideaway with her egg-loving mother Edie, sexually-perverted son Crackers, and faithful travelling friend Cotton until the trouble passes. Meanwhile, Divine’s sworn adversaries, the evil, green-with-envy Marbles, have spread their tentacles far outside the city, attempting abduction, pornography, drug-pushing, and a variety of other depravities. However, there can only be one winner in this no-holds-barred struggle for the prized championship.
6. Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant (1972)
Director- Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Petra von Kant is a well-known fashion designer who is haughty, acerbic, and conceited. She divorced the husband she no longer loved a long time ago. Petra had been in a fairly satisfactory S and M relationship with Marlene until recently (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). She is cruel to her. Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who aspires to be a model, enters the picture. She is smitten by Karin and invites her to live with her. The remainder of the film is devoted to the emotions surrounding the affair and its consequences. Fassbinder recounts his storey in a succession of five or six long scenes, each using a single camera shot and deep focus for extended periods of time.
7. My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Director- Stephen Frears
Nasser Hussein, an immigrant from Karachi, Pakistan, enjoys a comfortable life in London, England, with his wife Bilquis and three kids, one of them is named Tania. He and his friend Salim own and operate two businesses: a garage and ‘Churchill’s Laundrette.’ Nasser meets with his widower and drunken brother and initially asks him to wash vehicles when he is asked to hire his son, Omar. He then brings him to the laundromat and asks him to mop the floors, but he decides to delegate the task to Omar in the hopes of marrying him to Tania. Nasser is unaware that the laundrette would soon be renamed ‘Powders,’ and that the Husseins’ lives will never be the same again.
8. Looking For Langston (1989)
Director- Isaac Julien
With historical footage and images intercut with a storey, a black and white fantasy-like reconstruction of high-society gay men during the Harlem Renaissance. There is a wake taking place, with people gathered around a coffin. Downstairs, tuxedoed guys dance and converse at an upscale bar. One of them has a dream in which he meets Beauty, who appears to reject him, despite the fact that Beauty is sleeping near him when he wakes up. Voices read poetry and essays by Hughes and others, framing his biography and his visits to the jazz and dance club. The text is rarely explicit, but the visuals suggest and celebrate the freedom of gay Black men in Harlem in the 1920s.
9. Paris Is Burning (1990)
Director- Jennie Livingston
An unflinching behind-the-scenes look at the fashion-obsessed New Yorkers who invented “voguing” and drag balls and turned them into strong expressions of personal pride. The world-within-a-world is instantly recognisable, with goals, passions, and longings that mirror those of America. PARIS IS BURNING is an intimate depiction of one urban neighbourhood, a world where the temptation of high fashion, status, and luxury is transformed into a declaration of love, acceptance, and joy.
10. Orlando (1992)
Director- Sally Potter
In and around the court of historical England in the late 16th century, Orlando, a man of ideal nobility, begins his search for love, poetry, a position in society, and a meaning in life. The gift of perpetual life from Queen Elizabeth I allows him to go on a long and in-depth philosophical journey, accompanied by the characteristics of “noble” English living and a keen sense of irony. When Orlando, partly fed up and disgusted with how men think and act, returns from his ambassadorship in the Far East as the same guy, let alone his sex, both sides of the coin are displayed.
Also, In late 18th century England, Orlando, a woman of perfect nobility, continues her quest to understand the truth about life, love, and approaching one’s own sex. Finding humanity’s forgotten need for androgyny as the key to her own and her daughter’s happiness is a revelation for someone who has lived 400 years and hasn’t aged a day. Sally Potter’s film adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando not only presents the storey with stunning visuals, but also seeks to prolong the plot as Woolf would have if she had lived to the end of the twentieth century.