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The Celluloid Closet [DVD] [1995]


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The Celluloid Closet [DVD] [1995] + Before Stonewall [DVD] [1984] + We Were Here [DVD]
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Product details

  • Directors: Jeffrey Friedman, Rob Epstein
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Drakes Avenue Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 4 May 2009
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001THPPEO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,977 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Lily Tomlin narrates this award winning documentary that historically examines the way homosexuality has been dealt with over the years by mainstream Hollywood. Using film clips and interviews, the film illustrates tinseltown's negative portrayal of gay stereotypes over the years, but also highlights how, over time, gay characters on screen have not only increased, but have come to be more representative of the gay community at large.

From Amazon.co.uk

Author Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) wrote Lily Tomlin's narration for this superb documentary, based on a book by the late Vito Russo, about Hollywood's treatment of homosexual characters in this century. Never pointing a finger at anyone in the film community, The Celluloid Closet presents clips from more than 100 mainstream features (including The Children's Hour, Advise and Consent, The Boys in the Band, and The Hunger) that speak loudly in their respective images of gays and lesbians. The Celluloid Closet makes a persuasive case for patterns of sexual mythology in Hollywood, such as presenting homosexuals repeatedly as tragic, helpless figures redeemed only through death or as back-street monsters cavorting in the shadows. Things change, of course, and clips from more recent films by gay and lesbian filmmakers suggest a more vital, diverse, autobiographical approach. There are lots of great interviews with screenwriters (Gore Vidal), filmmakers (John Schlesinger), actors (Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg), and others to enunciate the major themes. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Frances Joan on 16 Feb. 2002
Format: VHS Tape
Remember when famous actors didn't dare play gay for fear of being typecast? This documentary shows Hollywood's flirtation with homosexuality, from early experiments with film showing two men dancing to AIDS movies and beyond. It explains how gay (and straight) movie makers portrayed homosexuality in an attempt to take it out of the closet, but also shows that gays and lesbians were mocked or even used as a instrument of horror.
What surprised me was that even though homosexuality has always been more or less a taboo, many films in the last century showed gay characters, but they were often cleverly disguised to bypass the sensors.
This film is for anyone interested in how Hollywood works and how we are influenced by the movies, regardless of your sexual preferences!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Good Wolf on 19 April 2009
Format: DVD
As the title says - it's about time this fantastic film was released on DVD in the UK. I've had an American copy for years, and it's something I never get tired of watching.

The same review applies here as I posted for the Region 1 release. This is wonderful - absolutely must-see viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of the depiction of gay people in cinema (or, come to that, anyone with an interest in the history of cinema full stop). It's by turns fascinating, shocking, sad, funny and uplifting. The narrative structure works well, taking us from the first silent films right through to the mid-90s (when this film was produced), with numerous talking heads giving their opinions - from film historians to Whoopi Goldberg and back again! It's full of classic clips of films you probably know, and some you almost certainly don't (and if you're like me, it'll inspire you to hunt them down and watch them).

Buy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Close Range. on 27 Dec. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Celluloid Closet is about 100 minutes long, and manages to cram in countless clips, stills and comments about a huge variety of movies that are about homosexuality, or deal with some aspect of gay life. There is an 1895 film clip by Edison, of two men dancing, probably the earliest segment here. And onwards through Greta Garbo as "Queen Christina" (1933), Marlene Dietrich in "Morocco" (1930). Some of the films mentioned are: "Young Man With A Horn" (1950), starring Lauren Bacall & Kirk Douglas; "Rebel Without A Cause" (1955),James Dean & Sal Mineo; "Johnny Guitar", starring Joan Crawford; "Pillow Talk" (1959), Rock Hudson & Doris Day; "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" (1958), Paul Newman; "Suddenly Last Summer" (1959), Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift; "Ben Hur" (1959) Charlton Heston & Stephen Boyd; "The Fox" (1968), Keir Dullea; "The Boys In The Band" (1970); "Next Stop Greenwich Village" (1976); "Cruising" (1980); "The Colour Purple" (1985); and "Philadelphia" (1993). It is interesting to note that the scene of two men kissing in "Wings" (1927) caused hardly any controversy when compared to the kiss between Harry Hamlin & Michael Ontkean in "Making Love"(1982), which had audiences running out of screenings. A 1912 clip shows one example of how homosexuals were seen as objects of amusement. Homosexuals have largely been seen in the films as people to be laughed at or pitied, and that image has only really begun to change relatively recently. A Chaplin movie showed an outrageously effeminate man, and such stock characters persisted way beyond the years of Charlie Chaplin. Films would depict gays as people who loathed themselves,and who would usually either commit suicide, meet some terrible(and deserved) death, or spend their lives miserable and lonely.Read more ›
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By The Reviewer on 8 Aug. 2013
Format: DVD
The docufilm, The Celluloid Closet (1995) is enlightening on several levels. It has illustrated how film can be re-interpreted. In this case a few references have re-interpreted carefully selected film clips as a subtext of homosexuality. This is a retrospective prism from the perspective of a homosexual audience. This revised perspective of film becomes the premise from which to forge a tool to critique English speaking cinema, primarily that of the Hollywood variety.

In other words the issue of 'homosexuality' is utilised in order to highlight the power of Hollywood and its conservative bent (pun not intended) on morals and values. The set of values are a reflection of public morality throughout the ages. This perception of morality by the audience is a further reflection of the contested and contrasting ideas of ideals between conservative and liberal factions. This is reflected as an ever shifting attitude by Hollywood's toward homosexuality, thereby exacerbating the public's confusion of morality.

On closer examination this confusion is explained less by whether homosexuality should be referenced on film, but more about how it should be portrayed and interpreted. Whereas the stereotyped 'pansy' has been portrayed by film makers and promoters as none-threatening as it's more palatable, the actual practise of homosexual sex acts within film, is pushing the boundaries in order to force the audience to question their own values. Ironically, this forces an almost inverse immorality where the film makers portraying homosexual acts are moral whilst the audience are made to feel unethical even for questioning whether this is acceptable causing a collective guilt trip among the latter.
Read more ›
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