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Scenes from: Different from the Others / Anders als die Andern (1919)

Different From the Others (Anders als die Andern) (Germany, 1919) has been preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive as part of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Funding provided by The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation and the members of…

Scenes from: Different from the Others / Anders als die Andern (1919)

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Different From the Others (Anders als die Andern) (Germany, 1919) has been preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive as part of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Funding provided by The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation and the members of Outfest.

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Synopsis

The concert violinist Paul Koerner takes a student under his wing, much to the worry of the boy’s parents. Koerner is meanwhile being blackmailed by a former lover, since in Germany any homosexual relations at that time were punishable under the law, codified in Article 175, which was not removed from the books until the 1960s. The German film, Different From the Others is, as far as we know, the first fiction feature film to address a specifically gay audience. Fortunately, even though more than 90% of all German silent films have disappeared, this film exists today in at least half its original length. When the film was first shown in 1919, gay and lesbian audiences must have been amazed that a mainstream fiction feature film would portray their situation as a fact of nature, rather than a perversion. Today, this film celebrates the brief opening of that door, before it slammed shut for another 50 years.

The film was produced and directed by Richard Oswald, at that time one of Germany’s most prolific independents, who made films cheaply and premiered them in a Berlin cinema he owned, where his wife would often handle the office box. Oswald had earned a fortune in 1917/18 with a number of “educational” feature films about sexually transmitted diseases, which were approved by the censorship authorities, simply because syphilis was rampant in the trenches. Oswald would continue to produce controversial films, like his acknowledged masterpiece, The Captain from Koepenick (1931) based on Carl Zuckmayer’s anti-authoritarian play. The Nazis never forgave Oswald for Anders als die Andern or Koepenick, forcing Oswald into exile and eventually to Hollywood, where he directed several films and televisions shows. Although long underappreciated in Germany, recent critical reappraisals have valued his in-your-face aesthetic and modern subject matter.

Only a severely truncated version of the film has survived, with Ukrainian titles, as Gosfilmofond in Russia. It was restored previously to a semblance of the original 1919 release by the Munich Film Museum. The UCLA restoration is based on that Munich reconstruction, with some changes and additions made.

Credits

Richard-Oswald-Produktion. Screenwriters: Magnus Hirschfeld and Richard Oswald. Cinematographer: Max Fassbender. With: Conrad Veidt, Leo Connard, Ilse von Tasso-Lind, Alexandra Willegh, Ernst Pittschau, Fritz Schulz.

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