Desert Hearts The Criterion Collection
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Donna Deitch's swooning and sensual first narrative feature, 'Desert Hearts', was groundbreaking upon its 1985 release: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a self-financed shoestring budget, by a woman. In the 1959-set film, an adaptation of a beloved novel by Jane Rule, straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno to file for divorce but winds up catching the eye of someone new, the younger free spirit Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), touching off a slow seduction that unfolds against a breathtaking desert landscape. With undeniable chemistry between its two leads, an evocative jukebox soundtrack, and vivid cinematography by Robert Elswit, Desert Hearts beautifully exudes a sense of tender yearning and emotional candor.
DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Elswit, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Audio commentary from 2007 featuring director Donna Deitch
- New conversation between Deitch and actor Jane Lynch
- New conversation between Deitch, Elswit, and production designer Jeannine Oppewall about the film's visual style
- New interviews with actors Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau
- Excerpt from Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule, a 1995 documentary about the author of Desert of the Heart, the 1964 novel on which the film is based - Trailer
- PLUS: An essay by critic B. Ruby Rich
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I am not a lesbian and I thought it was a great movie
I especially loved the old west as I lived in Reno during that era and it was accurate.
The movie kept stopping even though our internet speed test showed we were fine.
Deitch took the time to create a real place in the 50's complete with real characters. The professor played by Shaver is the perfect example of a well educated 50's woman. Readers who fault this character for not suddenly turning into a raving moonstruck lesbian after falling for Charbonneau (like the psychologist in Claire of the Moon perhaps??) are seeing her through modern eyes. In the 50's a woman who had attained the rank of Professor was very rare and that persona had to be lived to the max, in love or not. You just didn't run off and work for IBM if you got canned for impropriety! And isn't it better that Shaver's character wanted to further Charbonneau's education and chances in life rather than abandoning her decorum and finding a gay friendly job at the Casino?
This film even dared to give more than a surface treatment to the deeper reasons behind Charbonneau's mother's distaste for her relationship with Shaver. We saw her lonliness and alcoholism. Most films show characters expressing simple bigotry and leave it at that. But people usually aren't that simple.
These characters were explored rather than just presented on a mattress. This is film making....not just a lead up to sex. Its a shame Deitch didn't do more films!