The plot revolves around the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the violent clash that kicked off the gay rights movement in New York City. The drama centers on Danny Winters, who flees to New York, leaving behind his sister. He finds his way to the Stonewall Inn, where he meets Trevor before catching the eye of Ed Murphy, manager of the Stonewall. He colludes with corrupt police and exploits homeless youth.
During Danny's first visit to the Stonewall, a few months prior to the June 1969 riots, the song "Venus" by Shocking Blue is played on the bar's jukebox. The song wasn't released until October of 1969 and wasn't a major hit until 1970, well after the events of the film. Similarly, the song "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers, is featured twice on the soundtrack, once as as diegetic music and once as non-diegetic. That song wasn't released until 1972, again well after the events of the film. See more »
Every guy has to get over falling in love with someone who can't love him back.
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Shadow Of A Memory
Written by Theodore Goodloe, Kenneth Goodloe and Joe Jones
Performed by The Silver Stars
Courtesy of Lee Silver Productions
By arrangement with Riptide Music Group, LLC See more »
It's not what people want it to be.
Roland Emmerich's biggest mistake was calling the movie "Stonewall" and marketing it as if it were the actual story of the rebellion. It gave people the wrong expectation. It's not a movie about Stonewall. It's a movie about a Midwestern gay man whose story takes place on Christopher street at the time of the riots. It's also in part the story of the first person he meets in New York, played by Jonny Beauchamp, who steals the movie. It's basically a very oddball romance and coming-out story. People wanted an accurate historical epic about the importance of the riots, and the movie isn't that and was never meant to be.
For what it really is, it's a very good movie. Like most "historical" movies there are inaccuracies. The worst distortion is giving Danny the "first brick." That's upset a lot of people, but in the dramatic structure of the movie it's as much about Danny's becoming himself--a gay man throwing away his shame--as it is about the situation he finds himself in. The police are depicted as "bad" in the black-and-white morality of an old-fashioned hero-versus-villain Saturday morning serial. But beyond those inaccuracies and the impossibility of recreating Christopher Street as it was (which seems to be especially upsetting to some New York viewers), the movie is as faithful to its surrounding event as any Shakespeare history play to its, including sympathetic depictions of a very diverse neighborhood of LGBT types.
As a long-time gay activist, I liked the movie a great deal. It feels real as I remember things to have been 46 years ago. I felt a genuine emotional rush during and after the riot. The movie ends with typical historical clean-ups, telling us what became of the real people, like Marsha P Johnson and others who appear in the movie, and mentioning the additional nights of rioting and how they went on to be regarded in LGBT history.
For me the saddest thing about this film is the divisions it's exposed among various components of the LGBT community. This history belongs to all of us, black, brown, white, gay, lesbian, transgender, drag queen, troll, twink, and so on; if we can't honor it in all of our variations, no one else will either. Go to see it as a good story well told, not as a factual documentary. I write this knowing some of you won't be able to, some of you won't want to, and some of you won't believe me. I wish there were something I could do about that, but there isn't.
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