'Colette,' 'Lizzie' filter LGBT history through 19th century prism

The LGBTQ experience is being contemplated through an intriguing filter -- the social mores and homophobia t...

Posted: Sep 24, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Sep 24, 2018 9:31 AM

The LGBTQ experience is being contemplated through an intriguing filter -- the social mores and homophobia that characterized the end of the 19th century -- via a trio of independent films devoted to historical figures opening in a three-week span.

Two of those movies deal with literary titans: "Colette," an engrossing biography starring Keira Knightley as the author and fashion firebrand, who, after her marriage, began openly living with a woman; and "The Happy Prince," with Rupert Everett as the notorious Oscar Wilde, in a movie that the actor also wrote and directed.

Demographic groups

Gays and lesbians

Population and demographics

Sex and gender issues

Society

Arts and entertainment

Movies

A third, considerably bloodier film, "Lizzie," focuses on Lizzie Borden, the woman accused of murdering her parents in 1892. Chloe Sevigny stars in the title role (in what's been a longtime passion project for the actress) and Kristen Stewart ("Twilight") plays the family maid, Bridget, with whom, in this telling, Lizzie has an affair before (allegedly) dispatching her cruel, abusive father and complicit stepmother.

The issue of Lizzie's sexual awakening requires some extrapolation, but it has long been a subject of conjecture. The movie tackles it much more head-on -- and explicitly -- than other depictions of Borden's life, including a recent Lifetime movie and series, "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles."

Beyond her dawning sexuality, "Colette" -- foremost a terrific showcase for Knightley -- turns out to be a tale of misogyny, patriarchy and feminism, with the writer's husband Henri Gauthier-Villars, known by the single name "Willy" (Dominic West), appropriating her work and convincing her to market it under his name.

"Women writers don't sell," she's told, an assertion later proven wrong -- as the closing credits note -- by Colette's emergence as one of the most popular writers in the history of French literature, having authored "Gigi" and "Cheri."

Wilde's life was characterized by scandal, with the movie zeroing in on his final days, after the author of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "The Importance of Being Earnest" was the toast of British society.

A recurring theme in all three films is the idea of illicit passion, portraying people who were forced to hide their sexuality due to the bigotry of the time. All three subjects have been sources of fascination through the years, but these films are free to address those issues less timidly than earlier depictions of the era.

As Stewart told the Los Angeles Times regarding "Lizzie's" love story, "I think it's really cool to go back and be like, 'What does gay look like back then?' and 'Who would both of these women appear to be? How would they present in a time when they couldn't be natural with it?'"

Homophobia obviously hasn't gone away. In fact, two more contemporary movies -- the upcoming "Boy Erased" and the recently released "The Miseducation of Cameron Post" -- deal with gay conversion therapy, the latter set in the 1990s.

These collective forays into the Gilded Age and its aftermath, however, provide a different perspective, using the past as another window into the present. While the films individually have their merits, in terms of registering a larger point, there's strength in numbers.

"Colette" opens in the U.S. on Sept. 21, and "The Happy Prince" on Oct. 10. "Lizzie" is currently in release. All three are rated R.

West Lafayette
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 82°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 74°
Rensselaer
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 80°
Crawfordsville
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 76°
Frankfort
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 81°
Delphi
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Monticello
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 75°
Logansport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events