What would you personally recommend to someone who wanted to get into classic books/movies?
Honestly, it really depends on your personal taste — whether you prefer romance, drama, comedy, or just watching/reading something beautiful, etc.! So, whatever you like most, try to seek that in the films and books, and that will get you into it!
The list is long, so, this is your warning!
Some films I'd recommend (English language):
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - This was the film that reeeeeaaaaally got me into classic film, and I've never looked back since! A personal favourite of mine, but be warned it is quite dark, so, if that's not your cup of tea, brace yourself if you still intend to watch it. Not as dark as the original play due to the censors, of course.
Waterloo Bridge (1940) - If you like tragic romance and pretty visual aesthetics and ballet, this is the film for you! I've actually been only able to watch it fully once because it is so moving.
Casablanca (1942) - If you're not so fond of tragic endings, but love forbidden romances when everything seems to be falling apart and N*zis being critiqued during the occupation, then this is perhaps better fitting for you!
Queen Christina (1933) - Greta Garbo kisses Elizabeth Young on the mouth. Fucking iconic. Literally. Queer classic film enthusiasts go ape-shit for this film, as we should. The main relationship focused on is heterosexual and maintains a streak of the tragic, but it is certainly a must to watch for anyone curious about getting into classic film! Random nugget of information: censorship in the Irish Free State was so ridiculous that much of this film was cut, leaving only fragments of scenes to be threaded together haphazardly, meaning most Irish cinema-goers left very confused after viewing it. The full film was not seen there until after 1967, when film certification was re-standardised.
Ninotchka (1939) - This is a sweet comedy, mainly set in Paris, and it also has Greta Garbo starring in it. One of my comfort films that is actually not ridiculously dark bahaha. Why are you still reading this list? Go watch it!
If you desire a classic in colour and wish to be extremely brave, the Gone with the Wind (1939) is something I'd recommend. However, there's a lot of problematic shit going on in that, and the film in that regard reeeeaally hasn't aged well. Just keep in mind it's a period drama which was a product of its time, which leaves a lot to be desired in a modern moral and ethical perspective. Not sure if I'd recommend it as an introductory film, but fortune favours the bold and whatnot, so I thought to mention it. It is an absolute epic feat from a technical point of view.
If you're willing to watch non-Anglophone classic films (I can make a separate list if you so wish), I'll put a couple here:
La Belle et la bête (1946) - French. This is one of the most visually striking films I've seen in black and white. Simply breathtaking! It truly is like watching a fairytale you would have imagined in a dream (and it should, given it's Beauty and the Beast). An absolute must.
Nosferatu (1922) - German, but English intertitles available. Silent film. The OG vampire movie in German cinema!
[I've way more, but, I'm tryna move onto the books section now lol. Lmk if you'd like a longer list and I'll write one up for you <3]
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (one of my all time favourite novels!! Absolutely fantastic — gorgeous use of aesthetic language, great, lingering pacing to add to the ominous atmosphere of the novel, just all-round a must-read!)
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu - Lesbian vampires. Short 'n snappy but always fascinating! Complexities and ambiguities about what happen in the end are even more fascinating if you get the version which has the prologue (some people skip prologues but defo read this book's one, it's important. Read it again when you've finished the book and you'll see what I mean.).
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I've heard it can be a boring read if you don't read it critically (I had to study it in school lol so I have never known any other way of reading it), so just take note of Nick's social critique and you should be g.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde - Witty and fun! Obviuosly, better to watch it onstage, but if you feel like reading it, go for it!
King Lear by William Shakespeare - Drama. Tragedy. Action packed, but if you're anything like me, you'll adore it. Edmund is also an ass but v fuckable. As is Goneril and I won't take it back.
Animal Farm by George Orwell - Short but whew it sure does pack a punch.
The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. - You can read either the original novel or the stage adaptation, if you so wish! I'm currently reading the novel in French. Haven't finished it, but if you love tragic plots, you'll appreciate the premise. La Traviata is the opera adaptation.
I'll end this here, but I hope you find some things which tickle your fancy on these lists! Just hmu if you ever want more recs! Wishing you much luck in venturing into these new waters, darling! <3
Happy viewing/reading! ^.^
[Image Description: Portrait of Kristina King of Sweden with yellow and orange block bellow, in the colour block purple text that says: “transcribing The Works of Kristina King Of Sweden wwww.makingqueerhistory.com]
During my research for the Kristina King of Sweden article rewrite, I have spent a lot of time searching for a translated copy of Kristina’s work. Most copies are in inaccessible academic archives or for sale on Amazon. When I did finally find a copy, the quality was not great. There are some errors in the printing, and the format can make it rather hard to read.
While I was going through it, I realized it might be a neat project to create a better quality copy, one that is freely accessible and easier to read. Since the translation I found was published in 1753, it is in the public domain, and I think it is an exciting piece of queer history I would love for more people to have access to.
The first thing would be to make a PDF of this specific work, but depending on what you think, we can add translations of some of Kristina’s letters, make it available on ebook or even physically.
According to a poll posted on Patreon, everyone seems up for the idea of us taking time to start editing and republishing the works of Kristina King of Sweden to make it accessible, which is fantastic.
It looks like there are just over 12 sections, amounting to almost 200 pages, so I will be splitting it into sections of three and releasing each one as a paid post on Patreon, keeping our patrons updated and getting the work done in a month (hopefully).
This coming along when it has, is a particularly helpful coincidence, as Dean has tested positive for COVID19. I want to give him as much time off to take care of himself and recover as possible. This project would let me do that and would keep from leaving him with a massive pile of work to return to.
Ideally, by the end of the month, we will have the most basic version of this posted and published on our website as a free PDF, and depending on the interest, decide where to go from there.
I hope you are all as excited for it as I am. Thank you so much for your continued support, and I would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions y'all have for this!
I want to take a second to thank our patrons in particular for making this possible.
If you are interested in supporting this project please check out our Patreon!