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Christopher and His Kind
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Christopher and His Kind (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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53 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

If it was Smith's hope that this performance would inspire audiences to temporarily forget about his other BBC work then he has surely succeeded.

Author: reeceindie from manchester, england
9 February 2011

Inspired by Christopher Isherwood's 1976 autobiography of the same name Christopher and his Kind accomplishes it's greatest challenge in depicting the events and sights that would eventually inspire 1972's Cabaret, without actually imitating or reiterating the iconic Oscar-winner. BBC2's first-class feature-length dramatisation of Isherwood's formative years brilliantly presents the characters, proceedings, and atmosphere of 'thirties Berlin in embryonic form. The wonderfully witty screenplay smartly focuses on the Isherwoods' first travels to Berlin in 1931 and 1933, where both the romanticised sexual freedoms and the threat of fascism are seamlessly integrated into this snapshot of the inter-war years. Told retrospectively from an aging Isherwood, the film begins with the barely-published author taking the train to Berlin, at the urging of friend, WH Auden. Wisely, Isherwood is never portrayed as just a writer or observer, only briefly seen at the typewriter, and the film overcomes many of the obstacles in creating dramas based on writers to the extent that the publication of Isherwood's book 'Sally Bowles' remains just a passing reference, and receives little fanfare. Matt Smith is effortlessly perfect in the role of Isherwood displaying the ease with which Isherwood integrates himself into the sexual underground and 'divine decadence' of the club scene. If it was Smith's hope that this performance would inspire audiences to temporarily forget about his other BBC work then he has surely succeeded. Smith is perfectly accompanied by Toby Jones, as his rough-trade-loving neighbour and an impeccable Lindsey Duncan as his thoroughly British mother. Imogen Poots occupies the most difficult role as the proto-Sally Bowles, Jean Ross, all green fingernails and lousy torch-songs, a gift for any actress. Isherwood leaves Germany when it becomes clear that to stay would be fatal and unsuccessfully attempts to bring his German boyfriend back to Britain. The film closes with a brief post-war reunion between the two former lovers, and the difference between the two is made clear. Heinz, his German lover, is now married with a child and Christopher, as we know, is on the verge of being embraced by a burgeoning gay movement and meeting the man with whom he'll spend the rest of his life.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Really Good

Author: cllrdr-1 ( from Los Angeles, Ca.
15 September 2011

"Christopher and His Kind" was Christopher Isherwood's way of correcting what he glossed over in "The Berlin Stories" and this film version corrects the exceedingly glossy glosses of "Cabaret." The real Jean Ross (nicely played by Imogene Poots) was no Liza Minnelli. Likewise Matt Smith is no Michael York. He's simpler more direct "Herr Issyvoo," and his love affair with Heinz Douglas Booth) is recounted with great affection. It's hard for gay people today to imagine just how loose and louche things were in Berlin just before Hitler came to power. But Isherwood was there and what he recounts speaks volumes about art, politics and the beating heart of same-sex love.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

How could such a great story be made to be so dull....

Author: hughman55 from Texas
3 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the summer of 2010 I found myself on a transatlantic flight with a book, "Christopher and His Kind" and, coincidentally, a list of inflight movies that included, "Cabaret". I had never seen the film nor heard of the book. I still don't recall how I ended up with it on that flight. I do recall turning to my husband halfway through the book and saying these words, "Holy crap. I wish I knew how to write a screenplay. This book would make an amazing film." It still would.

Of all the failings of this film, and the downfall of every bad film, it is the weak screenplay that doomed it. It is trivial. And the source material, the novel, is anything but trivial. The screenplay is a grocery list of the parade of horribles that led to WWII. We already know them and half of the measly 87 minutes of this film did not need to be taken up by laying them out for the billionth time; and in the most hackneyed ways. You've got the Chrystal Nacht, the Swaztika banners, the good boy turned brownshirt, even the camera shot framing the main character through the Star of David painted onto a Jewish shop window. No imagination anywhere. And that brings us to the second worst failing of this film, it's star, Matt Smith. His Christopher Isherwood is little more than a potted plant with either a winsome or surprised look on his face that alternates A, B, A, B, throughout. No one who writes as well, or lived as interesting a life, as Christopher Isherwood could ever be so dull. The actual facts of Isherwood's life during this period is riveting. This screenplay, and it's lead actor, aren't.

I would not recommend this film to anyone but it would be unfair not to mention here that there were several excellent performances in the supporting cast. Imogen Poots (what a name...) as Jean Ross was everything that Sally Bowles was, and Liza Minnell (according to Isherwood himself) wasn't: half talented and full of unearned confidence. Lindsay Duncan as Isherwood's mother was cold comfort, which is to say, no comfort. Her damp love did nothing for her sons both of whom fled from her when they were able. Pipp Carter with very little screen time as Wysten Auden, made a strong impression as Isherwood's best friend; and depressed, religiously tortured, brooding, confidant. But it was an interesting and bizarre performance by Perry Milward, as Christopher's younger brother, that stood out most. The character, Richard Isherwood, is odd. And as a viewer you're not quite sure why. He knows he on the outside looking in, and that is possibly the source of his gentle humanity, even if he is slightly "off". Milward gives a quirky, and interesting, performance that does more to define the dysfunctional family dynamics than his lines ever intended.

Unfortunately, for this film, a few good performances in the supporting cast can't save it from a shallow understanding of the story by the screenwriter and a listless performance by the title character. Where would "Cabaret" be if Liza Minnelli were bad. Nowhere. If you are interested in this story read the book and watch "Cabaret". My only regret is that I didn't discover either of them until forty years after they came into existence. They are as relevant today as they were when they were made. This film won't be around four minutes from now.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Well done bio pic.

Author: pekinman from Illinois
21 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know why people dislike Matt Smith so much. I thought he was a very creditable Christopher Isherwood. And Imogen Poots is a far more rounded-out 'Sally Bowles' aka Jean Ross, than Liza Minelli was in Cabaret. Though that was a very different genre altogether and Minelli was OK as far as it went.

Christopher and His Kind is a well-produced and acted BBC period piece that evokes Berlin of the 1930s vividly. The characterizations are appealing and often quite funny and the men are beautiful, with a far amount of nudity thrown in for diversion, but nothing vulgar or prurient.

Much of the story is quite moving, the plight of the impoverished Berliners is heart-rending but not depressing. This is not a depressing tale but a cautionary one. The Nazis are well in evidence but not obnoxiously thrust into the viewers' faces as is so often the case. By now we know about the atrocities and it's good to be reminded, especially in a more subtle manner than usual.

This is a fine BBC show and I recommend it strongly.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Christopher and His Kind is an uplifting movie

Author: Stella Adhisurya from Jakarta, Indonesia
22 May 2012

Christopher and His Kind is not a heartfelt, moving film about homophobia and homosexuals being persecuted by the Nazis. However, it is a movie about a gay writer who travels to a war- torn Berlin all for the sake of boys. The main character, Christopher, goes to Berlin in search for freedom (and gay, gay sex) from his safe hometown of London giving up being a doctor in return for sexual freedom and promiscuity.

Is it vain, you may ask. Yes. Is it reckless? Completely. Is it completely stupid considering there's a war going on in Berlin? Of course. And does Christopher completely ignore this and go on crusading and falling in love? Yep. To understand this movie you must first understand Isherwood, there is a reason why they chose Matt Smith and not bloody Johnny Depp. You should watch this movie and see for yourself, it's humor and optimism set on a backdrop of war and genocide. If you want a poignant, moving story on homosexuality in the midst of the Nazis, go watch something else. This is a lighthearted look into Christoph Isherwood's mind and motives, a biography, not a history book.

TL;DR: It's funny, it's gay, it's insightful and inspiring. It's not heartfelt, moving or depressing, but it is kind of incredible.

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9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

The selfishness of English aristocrats doe snot have any limits

Author: Dr Jacques COULARDEAU from Olliergues, France
25 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It is supposed to be a true story that happened to a young man later remembered or rather recollected by the same man grown quite older, some forty years later. It happens around 1933 in Berlin centering on Hitler's arrival to power.

The young English, aristocratic man from England, Christopher Isherwood, goes to Berlin to meet with the young men available there most of the time for a price. He will let himself roll and rock in this atmosphere though he will be very hostile to the exchange of money that he will always refuse in his mind. That will lead him to confronting one of his regular lovers and that lover will plainly disappear after that confrontation, only to be met against in the brown uniform of the SA though identified as a SS uniform.

He does not understand that in the crisis in Germany in 1933 many young men who had no work chose to make the surviving money they needed by renting their bodies for a short moment to other men, generally older men, for a small amount of money, since they could not rent their bodies to an employer who would make a profit out of it by investing their work in the production of goods. Morally, socially and even physically there is no difference. Christopher does not understand there is no love in that exchange. Nothing but a commercial action of sheer survival.

And the only choice they have if they do not want to go on or to start that "professional" activity is to join the SS, the SA, the Nazi Party and make a living by crushing the lives of others, Jews, merchants, gays, or whatever – mind you not whoever – is in the way of their getting rid of as many millions of people possible to make the misery and poverty of the others just one iota better.

He will though find the love he is looking for. But he will not be able to keep him in Great Britain after the arrival of Hitler because a British civil servant will understand the sexual dimension of the attachment and refuse the visa. That will end badly for that young German, Heinz, in the hands of the Gestapo, with one year of forced labor and two years in the army.

That could have been a good though sad end, but the author morbidly goes one step further in his self-accusation. He goes back to Berlin in 1952 and meets the people who have survived Hitler. His landlady, for one, who makes him a present. And of course Heinz who lives in East Berlin though the Wall has not been built yet. Without giving the details of that end, it reveals how deep the uncaring carelessness of Christopher in 1933 has become a selfish nostalgia that turns the uncaring carelessness into a blunt rejection.

The film is well done, shows the atmosphere in Germany in 1933, though rather superficially, but it reveals the extreme egotism of that man who only considered Berlin as a hunting ground and revisits it when the raptor, vulture and predator he has been has found his balance in the evanescent scintillating world of Hollywood.

A sad, very sad vision of these aristocrats who can do what they want, provided they satisfy their desires in a lower social strata than theirs. Oscar Wilde (shown burning in Berlin) did the reverse and could not be accepted: he, a plebeian Irishman, who captured the passion of a young English Lord. Social, aristocratic divide breaking, ethnic and national rebellious crime against at the time Her Majesty's supreme aristocracy. To prison and then banned from proper English society, though the young Lord pays no price, of course not.

We have in this film the reverse situation and it reveals the extreme self-centered blindness of the author at the time of events.


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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Interesting but fragmented

Author: artfarris from United States
18 August 2014

A somewhat engaging film that recounts the Berlin years of Christopher Isherwood's diary. I'm not a Doctor Who fan, so I was more distracted by the fact that Matt Smith looks nothing like Christopher Isherwood, nor does Imogen Poots look anything like Jean Ross, but they both give adequate performances. The film mainly plays upon two brief love affairs and the trials and tribulations of Isherwood's boarding house neighbors, with Toby Jones giving a great performance as an immoral conman with a penchant for S&M-- frankly his character was the most interesting in the film. In the end, like most biographies, it only touches upon great matters like Hitler's rise to power, the plight of the gay men of Berlin and the coming world war. Ultimately, it was a fragmented film without a plot.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Matt and his kind

Author: Anja Bech from Aarhus, Denmark
27 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have just watched this film and upon reading the reviews became quite confused since most of the reviews are being considerably harsh, particularly when it comes to Matt Smith's performance. Perhaps it is because I am extremely fond of the actor, but I found his performance compelling and warm, though a bit awkward. I enjoyed the film thoroughly. The atmosphere of Berlin in 1933 was captured really well and the supporting actors were well cast. Imogen Poots' Jean was wonderfully outrageous. The greatest fault I found with the movie is probably that Heinz in the last bit in 1952 looks more like a woman impersonating a man than an aged man.

Overall definitely a film I would recommend.

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9 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Little Bit Empty but a Little Bit Good

Author: Rodrigo Amaro ( from São Paulo, Brazil
2 November 2011

If we have to look at BBC's "Christopher and His Kind" only as an informative piece about the Germany during the Nazi regime told by the perspective of a known writer, the movie works perfectly fine; but as an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's autobiography it doesn't go quite right. I haven't read the book (and perhaps will never do since this is still unavailable here) but I can surely guess that inside of it there's much more than show an hedonistic type who went to Berlin because of the boys and his fascination for them, more liberated there than in his repressive England. Something tells me that in the printed material there's way more than what we're told on the screen.

As a biographic film the story provides some good insights into Isherwood's life and his time, his writing and his passions. Played by Matt Smith ("Doctor Who") in a quite reliable way, the writer of "Mr Norris Changes Trains" has his fun, good and bad moments just like anyone else, falls in love and has to fight for it; and deals with the advance of the Nazism. In other words, it's an usual biography film that shows a small period of life of a personality. But compared to, let's say, Bennett Miller's "Capote", this TV movie doesn't go very far in almost anything (except for some good sexual scenes).

Getting into it it's not that easy, the whole "Cabaret" segments are irritating and repetitive; most of the time it's fun and a little adventure here and there, the problems never are presented as something dreadful, dramatic, everything seems to be easily solved for these characters when in fact during the days of WWII things weren't so simple. But what makes the movie not hold much of its audience attention is to give a deep look to its main character, I mean, what did he learn from this experience and what can we learn from his experience? He's just a vain figure who wants to share his adventures and that's it?

For a TV movie is quite okay, totally watchable, and it's not a total waste of time. More was needed for all involved, cast, crew, writer and direction. 7/10

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Great true story

Author: Sam Molloy from United States
26 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A true story told well. Like the movie "The Pianist", you really get a feeling of how it was to be there. Berlin, and Munich and some other German cites were quite tolerant of Gays throughout the '20's and Germany had the highest levels of education in the world at the time. From this distance it's hard to imagine how the rise of the Nazis could have happened, and movies like this make it real to today's viewers. Of course opposition to Hitler in the 1930's was not as solid here and in England as is portrayed by most of today's history books. Nor is it safe to assume that something similar could not happen again, although likely in a different form than seen among modern NeoNazis. Something that seems so right to most people at the time. It has been said that insanity is rare in individuals but quite common in groups.

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