Donna Deitch

Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts

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.

Film Info

  • Donna Deitch
  • United States
  • 1985
  • 91 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #902

Special Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED EDITION:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Elswit and created by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and the Sundance Institute, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2007 featuring director Donna Deitch
  • New conversation between Deitch and actor Jane Lynch
  • New interviews with actors Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau
  • Remembering Reno, a new program featuring Deitch, Elswit, and production designer Jeannine Oppewall
  • Excerpt from Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule, a 1994 documentary about the author of Desert of the Heart, the 1964 novel on which the film is based
  • PLUS: An essay by critic B. Ruby Rich

Purchase Options

Special Features

DIRECTOR-APPROVED EDITION:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Elswit and created by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project and the Sundance Institute, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2007 featuring director Donna Deitch
  • New conversation between Deitch and actor Jane Lynch
  • New interviews with actors Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau
  • Remembering Reno, a new program featuring Deitch, Elswit, and production designer Jeannine Oppewall
  • Excerpt from Fiction and Other Truths: A Film About Jane Rule, a 1994 documentary about the author of Desert of the Heart, the 1964 novel on which the film is based
  • PLUS: An essay by critic B. Ruby Rich
Desert Hearts
Cast
Helen Shaver
Vivian Bell
Patricia Charbonneau
Cay Rivvers
Audra Lindley
Frances Parker
Andra Akers
Silver
Gwen Welles
Gwen
Alex McArthur
Walter
Credits
Director
Donna Deitch
Produced by
Donna Deitch
Coproduced by
Cami Taylor
Screenplay by
Natalie Cooper
Adapted from the novel Desert of the Heart by
Jane Rule
Director of photography
Robert Elswit
Production designer
Jeannine Oppewall
Edited by
Robert Estrin

From The Current

Donna Deitch and Jane Lynch on the Mysteries of Screen Chemistry
Donna Deitch and Jane Lynch on the Mysteries of Screen Chemistry

Director Donna Deitch shares her stories of casting and directing Desert Hearts with one of the film’s biggest fans, Jane Lynch.

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Desert Hearts: The Thrill of It All
Desert Hearts: The Thrill of It All

Donna Deitch combined tropes of lesbian pulp romance with the sheen of mainstream filmmaking in her beloved debut feature.


By B. Ruby Rich

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