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August 4, 2008 | by  | in Film | [ssba]

The Celluloid Closet (1996)

This seminal documentary by Ray Epstien and Jeffrey Friedman tackles the history of homosexuals in American cinema since the beginning of Hollywood to the present day. And it does it with gravitas, beauty and style.

Homosexuals have not been treated kindly by the silver screen. This is probably due to the social mores of American society over the past hundred years, but also due to the fact that many Americans turn to Hollywood to style their own lives. Homosexuality was not deemed to be an endearing trait. During Hollywood’s formative years positive depictions of gays were actively discouraged.

At face value that’s where the story would end. It’s all action films and buff heroes and shit, right? Not so. Not so at all. The Celluloid Closet closely examines the progression of Hollywood films and manages to bring to light the way homosexuality has played an important role. Perhaps not in bright lights, but it’s always been there, simmering in between the scenes.

From the early sissy – the camp transvestite who was purely there for laughs – to the evil villain, who was out to violate not only your wallet but your morals as well, homosexuals have been present. Only in recent times has the homosexual male or female become an interesting and worthwhile topic for Hollywood. Films such as Philadelphia and Cabaret began to attack the negative light in which homosexuality was held. But it’s been a long and sorrowful road. The Celluloid Closet travels this road, and it carefully documents the hate, the oppression, the injustice – as well as the subversion, the humour and the joy, of depicting homosexuality on the biggest screen.


About the Author ()

Conrad is a very grumpy boy. When he was little he had a curl in the middle of his forehead. When he was good, he was moderately good, but when he was mean he was HORRID. He likes guns, bombs and shooting doves. He can often be found reading books about Mussolini and tank warfare. His greatest dream is to invent an eighteen foot high mechanical spider, which has an antimatter lazer attached to its back.

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