It sounds surprising, but Weimar Germany was actually a somewhat progressive place for gays and lesbians. But when the Nazis came to power, they went about destroying any evidence of an emerging queer culture.
Now, a rare fragment of the 1919 film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) has been discovered in the Ukraine. It’s in pretty poor shape but Outfest has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for its restoration.
Perhaps the first sympathetic portrayal of homosexuality in cinema, Different was directed by Richard Oswald and more notably, co-written by psychologist Magnus Hirschfeld, one of the forefathers of modern LGBT movement.
In the film, violinist, Paul Körner (Conrad Veidt) falls in love with one of his male students. As a blackmailer tries to expose his secret, Körner flashes back on early inklings of his orientation, and subsequent attempts to change it. (Hirschfeld has a small role as a doctor who dissuades Körner’s parents from trying to “cure” him.) The musician and his extortionist wind up in court, and though the judge is sympathetic, Körner career is ruined by the scandal. Tragically he commits suicide.
A polemic against Germany’s Paragraph 175, which outlawed same-sex relations, Different from the Others is believed to be the only remaining film from a series of queer-friendly flicks produced before WWII.
“Our work on this film will ensure that the message of tolerance and acceptance that was made so courageously in 1919 in Germany will continue to inspire generations to come,” explains Christopher Racster of the Outfest Legacy Project. (A preview of the work-in-progress was held on October 13.)
The Kickstarter campaign’s goal is a modest $5,000 but its less than half the way there. If we all ponied up $20, (you can skip Alex Cross, trust us) this vital piece of our cultural heritage can be revived.