Paris Is Burning
1990, Gay and lesbian/Documentary, 1h 18m56 Reviews 2,500+ Ratings
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Paris Is Burning dives into '80s transgender subculture, with the understated camera allowing this world to flourish and the people to speak (and dance) for themselves. Read critic reviews
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Critic Reviews for Paris Is Burning
Half sad, half exuberant.
The earnestness of the competition is what holds this film together.May 19, 2020 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
There is a lot of common sense and natural wit behind the role-playing. Yet there is also a terrible sadness in the testimony.
[The film intercuts] ball scenes with interviews with the participants in less hectic, more reflective moments. It is those personal, humanizing moments, much more than the hectic, eye-catching hubbub of performance, that truly linger in the mind.
If the wit, glamour and mind-boggling outfits of Paris Is Burning are disarming, not far beneath the film's surface is an immensely moving quality.
If all you know about Voguing comes from Madonna, this spirited and heartbreaking documentary from first-time filmmaker Jennie Livingston will be an eyeopener.
Audience Reviews for Paris Is Burning
Aug 08, 2014This documentary is a beautiful time capsule of the "ball" culture of late eighties drag culture. Not only does it show the performance aspect of these intricate and flawless drag shows, but also the AIDS fueled hysteria of the time, discrimination against gay people, and the fears and doubts of these one of a kind people. Since the film was released, many of the performers have died of AIDS related illnesses, and many of their trade secrets and views on life are only evident on the celluloid that this film was printed on. The subjects of this two year documentary are fascinating because of their candor and reverence for their craft. The film is both insightful in its depiction of ball culture and thoroughly entertaining for its depth and scope.Spencer S Super Reviewer
Jun 05, 2014As a revealing (and sad) portrait of this subculture of the 1980s, the film documents the balls, the "houses," "voguing" and a "realness" competition that raises some fascinating questions about what real means (gay men even appear teaching women to behave like "real" women).Carlos M Super Reviewer
May 21, 2013A timeless, classic LBGT film. Quite bold for its time...which I guess means it isn't exactly "timeless"....still....Christian C Super Reviewer
Jul 30, 2012This documentary focuses on the aspirations and culture of African American homosexuals and transsexuals. What is interesting about this subject is the depth of the culture. Filled with nuances and its own patois, gay and transsexual culture is remarkably complex, and the film exposes all. I can't say that I enjoyed the film because I've never been sitting in my apartment and thought, "Gee, I wonder what gay culture was like in the 80s." But that's not the film's fault. Overall, if you've ever been sitting in your apartment thinking, "Gee, I wonder what gay culture was like in the 80s," then this is the film for you.Jim H Super Reviewer
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