the eclipse: courtship of the sun and moon

Queer Films Masterpost: 1895-1919

1890’s

  • Dickson Experimental Sound Film, US (1895) The first known film with live-recorded sound. There is some controversy over whether the two men dancing are meant to be interpreted as a couple or not. Still, this may be seen as one of the earliest examples of same-sex imagery in the cinema.

1900’s

  • The Eclipse: Courtship of the Sun and Moon (L'éclipse du soleil en pleine lune), France (1907) A professor of astronomy gives a lecture on an impending solar eclipse. The film then shows several celestial events featuring anthropomorphic representations of the sun, moon, planets, and stars. The Eclipse has been remarked upon for its overt sexual symbolism, and some, interpreting both the Sun and the Moon as male, have described the erotic “eclipse” as an early depiction of homosexuality in cinema.

1910’s

  • Algie the Miner, US (1912) Algie Allmore, a city boy with suspicious behaviors like giving cowboys kisses on their lips and dressing different, is given only one year to prove that he’s the man to marry Harry Lyons’ daughter.
  • A Florida Enchantment, US (1914) Lillian Travers, a wealthy Northern woman about to be married, takes a magical seed which transforms its user into the opposite gender. This has been seen by many as one of the earliest film representations of homosexuality, bisexuality, cross-dressing, and/or transgenderism. (Note: contains blackface and some transphobia/transmisogyny)
  • Vingarne (The Wings), Sweden (1916) A conniving countess comes between a gay sculptor, Claude Zoret, and his bisexual model and lover, Mikaël. The film is largely lost, with only half an hour surviving of the original 70-minute film. The film is based on Herman Bang’s 1902 novel Mikaël, the same as the 1924 film Michael. (Note: contains character death)
  • I Don’t Want to Be a Man (Ich möchte kein Mann sein), Germany (1918) A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.
  • Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern), Germany (1919) The film follows violinist Paul Körner and the conflict with his sexuality. This film is known to be one of the first sympathetic portrayals of homosexuality in the cinema. (Note: contains nudity and suicide)