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1985 Adam4Adam

Watch This: 1985, a Film About the AIDS Crisis

(Photo Credits: Screengrab from Wolfe Video YouTube)

The film 1985 (2018, Yen Tan), tells the story of a young, closeted gay man in his 20s named Adrian (Cory Michael Smith, Gotham), who is returning to his conservative family in Texas for Christmas. Adrian hasn’t been home for three years with reason, presumably his secret that he didn’t want to share with his family, but now he comes back with more secrets than he had initially left home with.

This film, shot in black-and-white, is set in the year 1985 during the height of the AIDS crisis. And, in the trailer shown below, Adrian can be seen crying as he tells his old friend (or maybe old flame?) Carly (Jamie Chung, The Gifted) that he had lost so many friends. How in that year alone, he had been into six funerals.

As to why 1985 is rendered in black-and-white, filmmaker Yen Tan said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “[It’s] the idea that the issue of AIDS was a black-and-white issue and sexuality was a black-and-white issue: it was good or evil, a dead-or-alive kind of thing.” Tan added, “In a world now where sexuality is being seen more on a spectrum, which is wonderful, this takes us to a time when things weren’t so fluid, or your individuality was relegated to this or that.”

1985 also stars, among others, Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen as Adrian’s mother, Aidan Langford as the younger brother Andrew, and Golden Globe Award winner Michael Chiklis who played the role of Adrian’s father, Dale.

Watch out for 1985‘s limited theatrical release this fall, it is scheduled on October 26 in NYC and Los Angeles first and then in other cities. It’s been shown in various film festivals this year and it earned rave reviews; so far 1985 has been described as “incredibly moving,” “haunting,” and “heartbreaking” to name a few. Β 

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  1. luigi nonono

    What gets lost is that the AIDS epidemic was all about behavior, promiscuity. Once the information was out there, which was in 1984, though it took time to spread, the men who refused to change their risky behavior were the ones that died unless they had immunity. Therefore, all the pleas for government intervention were hollow, because no one, rightly, wanted to support a rampantly promiscuous culture of anonymous sex and bathhouses, orgies and the like. At the time, I saw it as committing crimes against Love, and Love being the most powerful force we know, one pays a price for going against love. Men who were cautious, celibate, or in monogamous relationships never got sick. But the idea of rampant sex had gotten ingrained in the gay community by the radical activists, as opposed to the focus on love by the more-conservative activists, and the epidemic was the direct result. It is sad to see that the radicals still seem to have more influence. The whole Silence=Death campaign was embarrassing, and I always thought, slowed the development of research. Who cares how angry a bunch of slutty queens get? It was never the government’s fault. At that point, no matter how much research, nothing could have been done for years. The only thing that could be done was to change behavior which so many refused to do. Promiscuity is not a civil right. If anything, the epidemic set us back many years in achieving equality. That is why it is so shocking and hurtful today to see young men re-embracing bareback sex as if there are no consequences. So what if AIDS is no longer exactly life-threatening, supposedly? Another epidemic can come along, as that one did. Anal sex is simply the best way to spread disease. A deadly parasite could be an epidemic. Or plague. One simply cannot have bareback sex except within a monogamous relationship with total trust. Which means no fooling around on the side. Being gay does NOT mean being exempt from being a moral person. That is the lesson of all this. Has anyone learned it yet?
    I’m sure what I’m saying will be unpopular and prompt a lot of abuse and loud yelling. Nevertheless, it is the truth.

    • Lamar

      You know, I could not have said it better, Bravo!

      “A wise man wakes-up, a fool keeps going,” it was what was said on the “Dave Letterman Show” that really nailed it for me. An actor, who once worked as a security agent for the CIA was asked, “so what do you think of the HIV/AIDS epidemic?” His reply, “well I can’t say too much about it, since I am a family man, but, “I’ll tell you it is a man made disease.”

      Early 80’s hit just as I was coming out, could have been snuffed out along with man of my closet friends had I ‘not’ paid any attention to very serious disease.

      If you know of the “Tuskegee Experiment,” the local of the “where-how hiv/aids originated, the very flimsy excuse given as to the “how/why in Africa; they’re black, poor thus defenseless-. And, as pointe out, why it was so ignored for so long, as long as it was a “gay and or black disease” those whom at the time, it was killing.

      It only reached “epidemic-status” when everyone else out side of those perimeters, started getting infected. I began other practices as a means of stimulation, as to this very day so I remain hiv/std free in a pool of those that are infected.

      This is why say today, if, you are infected and rely on meds, I feel you are over a barrel, personally, but, I’m an African Amer., I ‘know ’cause I’ve learned a very hard lesson; what
      it is to be a minority = minor = you matter, not, in the scheme of things much bigger.

  2. Okzebra2

    I was in my 20s in 1985 and sexuality was not black and white but fluid, baby, fluid — at least in Boston where the intellectuals were hiding out from the first rightist era, Reagan, that spawned the second, the bushes, and now, the third, trump. The society was and remains much more tolerant and fluid compared to the rightist political superstructure that controlled us then and now. So, now, these millennial artists didn’t get it right. But, what can we expect when the “liberal” political party and class are little more than Eisenhower Republicans from the 1950s who celebrate marriage and military “freedom” just because it is ever so more tolerant than the Dixiecrat-john birchers in the “conservative” wing of the same boring, materialist, bourgeois, and vapid one party system, with two factions, that we have today. Ask these “A LIST” liberals if they support guaranteed national income even if you don’t work, 100% grants for all college expenses (plus a stipend to live on), four weeks paid vacation first year on a job, guaranteed pension and social security equal to 75% of your last working year income, retirement at 60, and ALL FUNDED BY A PROGRESSIVE INCINE TAX TAKING 90% OF INCOMES ONE MILLION and an Estate Tax doing the same thing when they die. You’ll hear very shortly why this is BAD BAD BAD even if it was the “Real Democrats” policy And FEDERAL LAW from 1945 to 1980. Phony phony ponies who brainwash the voters with “faux” films like this.

  3. marc

    This is more likely going to be a good movie to watch from a western perspective since that what this would be. It is the experience of what sexuality and hiv looked like during that time in America. But in sub-Sahara Africa 1985 doesn’t mean a thing. The height of this disease happened decades before, but nobody cared. Today, more heterosexual people in Africa alone are still dying from this disease. It is still a “black or white” issue for different reason in Africa. I always had a problem identifying hiv as a gay issue, because it never was a gay disease. In the westernize world, by population, it is a gay male of color disease. But globally, by population, it is a heterosexual disease. I hope that when people see this movie that they remember this isn’t really about the AIDS crisis globally, but how it played out in America. Globally, the crisis is still going on and many people are still dying and not being treated well.

  4. Mike

    Im sure this will be a good movie but I feel the last thing we need is another movie with gays dying of aids. Our history is so full and the youth should hear and be exposed to other sides of our history! Someone should make a movie about the life of William Haines. There is a documentary about him on youtube called Out of the Closet, Off the Screen. Its worth the watch!!!


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