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Edwin E. Reed
Paul Korner is a homosexual musician who falls in love with his protégé Kurt. Unfortunately, the two are seen walking hand in hand by the blackmailer Franz. Though Paul agrees to Franz's demands at first, it gets out of hand and he ends up refusing to pay which has dire consequences for the lovers.Written by
The film was received surprisingly well by the public at the time of its release, and was shown in cinemas for almost a year. See more »
Respected ladies and gentlemen take heed. The time will come when such tragedies will be no more. For knowledge will conquer prejudice, truth will conquer lies, and love will triumph over hatred.
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It's a shame that about half of this film is lost, deliberately destroyed by the Nazis. What is odd is that probably the tamest portions of the film are missing - the parts with Paul Körner (Conrad Veidt) and his family, and the parts in which Paul interacts with Else, the girl who loves him. The parts that are missing though are masterfully replaced by still shots and enough inter-titles that you get a pretty good idea of how Paul gets along with his family.
The film was made after World War I during a brief time of relative tolerance for homosexuality in Germany, and rather than try to be titillating, the film tries to teach of the problems with the German law that made it a crime to be homosexual. Paul Körner is a famous violin virtuoso who harbors a terrible secret - he's gay and constantly in fear of being discovered and prosecuted under the law. As a result, you realize that Paul is a rather sad and lonely man despite his professional success, unable to openly express himself and look for a life-partner out in the open. Things change when Paul takes on a pupil, Kurt Sivers, a young man who idolizes Paul. Paul seems to really fall for Kurt, but you can tell that Kurt is still somewhat unsure of what to make of his own feelings at this point. Unfortunately, Kurt's sister Else loves Paul too, not knowing that Paul is unable to return the sentiment.
Paul is also being hounded by a blackmailer who first met him in a gay dance hall. When Paul mistook the blackmailer's advances as romantic, he took him back to his home and there the man spurned Paul and demanded money. You get the impression he's been hounding him ever since that time. What is odd is that the gay dance hall where he and Paul first met almost seems to be the blackmailer's second home, so I have to wonder why the blackmailer isn't afraid of being blackmailed himself.
There's a well done set of scenes with Paul looking back on his life - his adolescence at boarding school specifically - and the trouble he had there on account of his orientation. There's even a scene with a sexologist lecturing on homosexuality - oddly enough, this is how Paul explains to Else the truth of who he is and that his rejection of her is not personal.
Highly recommended as a good reconstruction of a lost silent film.
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