Desert Hearts

Feature Film USA 1985

Desert Hearts was one of the first films to depict a lesbian relationship in an open and romantic way. It contains one of the most passionate scene of love and sex ever shot, thanks also to the superb acting by Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau,. However, both actresses later confessed that the film had ruined their careers. The film, winner of the Honorable Mention at the 1986 Sundance Film Festival, is set on a ranch in Nevada in 1959 and tells the story of a growing and almost inevitable attraction between an elegant East Coast professor, waiting for her divorce, and a young woman working in a casino in Reno, who is a ceramic artist, completely at ease with her sexuality. This is Donna Deitch's debut film as a director. Based on the novel of the same title written by committed lesbian writer Jane Rule (who died in 2007), Desert Hearts is also her own remake of John Houston's The Misfits. Sadly, Deitch's movie work came to an end at this stage. Besides a couple of documentary films, she then started to write steadily for television. Controversial feminist and lesbian anthropologist Camille Paglia confessed to have watched the film eleven times and it seems that even Greta Garbo, impressed by the intensity of the love story, phoned Shaver to congratulate her. The memorable country soundtrack includes songs by Patsy Cline, Patti Page, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash.

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