The trans* film canon is not overwhelming. Most people cannot name more than a couple films: maybe Boys Don’t Cry or the more recent Albert Nobbs. Every community yearns to be presented in media, but often trans* films are either exceedingly sad or not good representations of the community. I wanted to bring trans* films and media into Exploring Gender to expand our knowledge of our own culture.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, originally an Off-Broadway musical which has also been performed around the world, was adapted for film by John Cameron Mitchell, who wrote the original book for the musical and both directed and played Hedwig in the film. Hedwig tells her story through the music--her childhood in Germany, how she came to be in the United States, and how her life has changed since then.
Hedwig does not really work as a realistic representation of the community. Much of the story is presented in a very surreal way and tends to be a bit over the top, but overall, the movie is just good fun, though somewhat sad. The beautiful thing about this film is the music and the performances. They are fabulously staged, and the music itself is wonderful. Songs like “Tear Me Down,” comparing Hedwig to the Berlin Wall and “The Origin of Love” based on Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium really tell the story and are relatable on many levels.
Compared often to Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig does have a similar feel to it. I can see how it would be a love it or hate it type of film. That being said, I loved it for the music. I recommend watching the whole thing, but here is “The Origin of Love.” Take a look, enjoy the music, watch. If there are other trans* films I should take a look at, or really any other form of media, message me here, leave suggestions in the comments, or send them to me on tumblr.