Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts

Directed by Donna Deitch • 1985 • United States

Donna Deitch's swooning and sensual first narrative feature, DESERT HEARTS, was groundbreaking upon its release in 1985: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a shoestring budget, by a woman. In this 1959-set film, adapted from 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 free-spirited young 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.

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Desert Hearts
  • Desert Hearts

    Directed by Donna Deitch • 1985 • United States

    Donna Deitch's swooning and sensual first narrative feature, DESERT HEARTS, was groundbreaking upon its release in 1985: a love story about two women, made entirely independently, on a shoestring budget, by a woman. In this 1959-set film, adapted...

Extras

  • DESERT HEARTS Commentary

    The following commentary features director Donna Deitch and was recorded in 2007.

  • Donna Deitch and Jane Lynch on DESERT HEARTS

    Wanting to make a film about a lesbian relationship that didn’t end in tragedy, director Donna Deitch spent five years working on DESERT HEARTS. Its release in 1985 was a landmark moment in queer cinema. In this conversation, recorded in Los Angeles in 2017, Deitch and actor Jane Lynch discuss th...

  • Women in Love

    DESERT HEARTS depended on the connection between its two lead actors, Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver, and on their trust in director Donna Deitch. In the following program, made in New York in 2017, the actors and the director discuss the making of the film, the close bond they formed, and...

  • Remembering Reno

    In the following conversation, filmed in Los Angeles in August 2017, director Donna Deitch, cinematographer Robert Elswit, and production designed Jeannine Oppewall discuss their collaboration in creating the look of DESERT HEARTS.

  • Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule—1

    Canadian author Jane Rule published the novel “Desert of the Heart” in 1964; it has come to be considered a landmark of lesbian fiction. The following excerpts from the 1994 documentary FICTION AND OTHER TRUTHS: A FILM ABOUT JANE RULE, by Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman, feature Rule discussing ...

  • Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule—2

    Canadian author Jane Rule published the novel “Desert of the Heart” in 1964; it has come to be considered a landmark of lesbian fiction. The following excerpts from the 1994 documentary FICTION AND OTHER TRUTHS: A FILM ABOUT JANE RULE, by Lynne Fernie and Aerlyn Weissman, feature Rule discussing ...