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From Dickinson to Ammonite: Watch these timeless LGBTQ+ silver screen works

These period films and shows seek to tell the stories of individuals of the LGBTQ+ community that history has constantly tried to suppress.

  • Shilpa S

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 01.00 PM, Jan 03, 2022


Period pieces are definitely a favourite genre for filmmakers to experiment with. Be it for the aesthetics, the costumes and timeless architecture, or the glimpse into the past they offer even in fictional tales, the silver screen works set in the past definitely have a lot to intrigue. Contemporary period stories have also ventured to tell the stories of individuals that history has constantly tried to suppress and even erase in its stories - the LGBTQ+ community.

For a community that is still not free from oppression, the past has never been a kind place. But nonetheless, the community has stories to tell that are set in every decade that has gone by, and period pieces seek to do just that.

Here are a few period films and shows that are centred around stories of the LGBTQ+ community, which may help give you a glimpse into how their stories figured in the past.

This 2020 film tells the story of a British palaeontologist, Mary Anning, whose mundane life takes an unexpected turn when she is charged with the care of a sick young woman Charlotte Murchison. As the two start to spend time together on the English beaches, love blossoms between them. Although the two protagonists were real-life figures, one a palaeontologist and the other a geologist, the film is a fictionalised version of the real-life friendship between the two. Ammonite stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in lead roles.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Set in 18th century France, Portrait of a Lady on Fire revolves around the story of a young painter, Marianne, who makes her way to a remote island after she receives a commission to paint the picture of a noblewoman’s daughter. There, she discovers that the woman in question, Héloïse, who is engaged to be married, has refused to sit for portraits, thus necessitating Marianne to masquerade as her companion to draw her in secret. The critically acclaimed film has won numerous accolades for its authentic and sensitive depiction of a queer relationship set centuries ago.
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, this period series revolves around the story of one of the most famous American poets, Emily Dickinson. The series gives us a unique perspective into the life of the reclusive young Emily, as she struggles to find herself amidst the plethora of restrictions and limitations that are placed upon her. Further complicating things is her hard to contain feelings for her brother’s fiancee and her best friend, Sue Gilbert. The third and final season of the show aired recently.
Vita and Virginia
Vita and Virginia revolves around the story of the relationship between the popular English authors Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Set in the 1920s, it tells the story of the real-life affair between the two writers, both married and in open marriages, as their personal and professional worlds collide as their relationship progresses. The film’s premise is based on the stage play of the same name, written by Eileen Atkins who has also written the film’s script. Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki star as West and Woolf respectively.
Based on Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel called The Price of Salt, Carol tells the story of a young aspiring photographer, Therese, who develops a deep bond with a sophisticated older woman. The woman, named Carol, is going through a difficult divorce and seeks comfort in her newfound friendship with Therese, and as love blossoms between the two, it brings Carol further troubles in her custody battle over her daughter. Starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, the film received critical acclaim, making its way onto many Greatest films of all time lists. The film also received six Academy Award nominations.

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