Reportedly the first film to come out of East Germany to deal openly with gay issues. Philipp, a closeted teacher is dating a female collegue to keep up appearances. One night, by 'accident... See full summary »
Reportedly the first film to come out of East Germany to deal openly with gay issues. Philipp, a closeted teacher is dating a female collegue to keep up appearances. One night, by 'accident' he stumbles into a gay bar, meets and promptly falls in love with a young man. Transformed by this love he is no longer afraid to face up to who he is. Written by
This movie is a wonderful story and an artifact both cultural and historical. It takes us across the Berlin Wall in the last year of the German Democratic Republic. In the background we hear avant garde electronic music, and when the characters go to the theatre, we see a modern fanciful production. It is a reminder of German modernism in the arts, something that one rarely sees on the screen.
The students in Phillip's (the protagonist's) high school class write their essays about a quote from Bertolt Brecht. This quote, about a common man in his own community, goes a long way to explaining the apparent lack of an ending. I confess that I found the ending a bit odd until I watched the movie a second time. The protagonist is not going to live a Hollywood 'happy ending'. He is going to live in the back streets that are gay East Berlin. He will not have the easy life he adopts at the beginning of the movie, and he is going to continue being a high school teacher. Phillip is not going to allow the East German state, his profession, his family or his girl friend to supress his own self. He is living on a tight wire, but he is an ordinary citizen of a socialist state.
The non-capitalist industrial society that serves as the backdrop for this coming of age story is no more. It is refreshing to see a movie without product placements and the crass commercialism. Coming Out is a flash back to a society where gays were repressed but lived out their lives in spite of society. If you think Bush's America is repressive, imagine living in a police state like East Germany with the Berlin wall. This fact gives Phillip's coming out such significance. His dilemma makes modern American gay life seem comparatively carefree. We take so much for granted.
The director is obviously accomplished. The budget is adequate so we are spared the technical problems of gay cinema on a shoe string. The acting and dialog are convincing . The German is exceptionally crisp and clear, allowing someone with a first year college course in German to catch subtleties that are not captioned. The cinematography is good and moves the plot forward.
This film was erotic without being pornographic. It was far more realistic than Maurice for example. It touched me in a way that coming out films rarely do. It reminded me of the first time I went to a gay bar in a small city, all quite self-conscious and anxious and awed. More importantly, it reminded me of what I wanted to find there.
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