Vampires and Violets

Vampires and Violets


Vampires and Violets by Andrea Weiss


The story of lesbians and the cinema is a love-hate affair in which the invisible becomes visible in fascinating and surprising ways. The lesbian vampire, for instance, cinema's most persistent lesbian character, acts out male fantasies of sexual challenge and titillation, but she is also an agent of female desire that is both dangerous and excessive. Gossip and camp have enabled the stars Dietrich, Garbo, Hepburn to hold particular, magical appeal for lesbian film goers.

Andrea Weiss follows the lesbian character in Hollywood films, from Dorothy Arzner's The Wild Party, through The Children's Hour, Rebecca, Silkwood, and The Color Purple. She explores lesbian sexuality in European art cinema and modern independent work by lesbian filmmakers. With wit, insight, and liberal illustration she brings into her discussion a wide range of films, both popular and forgotten, as well as the work of contemporary directors Chantal Akerman, Su Friedrich, Ulrike Ottinger, and many others.