Features and Columns · Movies

Bodies of Water: Swimming and Hydrophilia in Queer Cinema

Here’s a video essay about the metaphorical bond between water and Queer Cinema, from their shared sense of liberation to their mutability.
Water Queer Cinema
By  · Published on June 25th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on the metaphor of water in queer cinema.


One of the best parts of writing this column is stumbling across video essays that clarify and give shape to half-formed observations about cinema and film-making. We all have those moments where we take note of potential patterns and file them away for the day someone smarter (and more well-read) can corroborate the suspicion. Then (ideally) you can bump into answers to your idle questions (e.g. Why do all movie haunted mansions look the same? Why do Terrence Malick’s movies look so tactile? Why are there so many fridges in David Fincher’s movies?).

“There sure are a lot of water scenes in queer cinema” you wonder to yourself. Maybe the thought crossed your mind while watching the glistening, beach-side bodies of Beau Travail or the crashing, undulating waves of Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Maybe it was the soothing surf of Moonlight or the exposed, gaze-inviting shores of Stranger by the Lake. In any case, today’s video essay is here to tie the metaphor together, as it were. Water is a key thematic presence in queer cinema: a liminal space where bodies are free to exist as they are; where the vast expanse of the sea reflects the unlimited potential and mutability of human experience; and where diving into the unknown requires courage, strength, and confidence.

Watch “Bodies Come Undone: Water and Temporalities in Queer Cinema“:

Who made this?

This video essay is by Riccardo Agostini. The essay is the product of Agostini’s Film Studies degree at Trinity College Dublin. If you enjoyed the above video you, like us, may want to keep an eye on Agostini, which you can do by following their Vimeo account here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).