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Zurich, 1956. The young teacher Ernst Ostertag falls head over heels in love with the transvestite star Robi Rapp and finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality. Ernst becomes a member of the gay organization DER KREIS and lives through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which in the whole of Europe is seen as the pioneer of gay emancipation.Written by
Fantastic true story of homosexual love in fifties Switzerland.
This is a mix of documentary interviews and recreation of the lives of two gay men growing up in 1950's Switzerland and the magazine that brought them together. Ernst is a mild mannered teacher and he hears of an organisation that is a support structure for people like him – 'confirmed bachelors'. This is Der Kreis or The Circle – it was a publication made in Zurich and had readers worldwide. Ernst meets an enigmatic drag queen in Robi Rapp and falls for him completely.
Despite their and the editors efforts to keep on the right side of the Swiss law, things start to unravel after the murder of a closeted musician and then the spotlight is thrown onto the underworld gay scene. The spotlight and media attention paint a world populated by degenerates out to undermine the fabric of society and nothing will be the same again.
This is told with actors recreating the pivotal scenes and then with modern day interviews with Ernst and Robi. All of the actors are superb but Sven Schelker playing Robi is just wonderful. It would be easy to glamorise this by saying it is a story of sex, intrigue and murder and to a large extent that would be true. However, at its core it is a story of love, companionship and living a lie in a world fearful of what it has never tried to understand. Watch the run off credits too for some great photographs – this is a must for anyone interested in gay history. In German and a run time of 102 minutes – this is a simply brilliant film.
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