2003 | 89 min.
Love in Thoughts
By Wieland Speck
Love in Thoughts
Director: Achim von Borries | Germany 2003 | 89 minutes | colour
Languages: German with English subtitles
Film Distribution: X Rental
Availabe at: Goethe-Institut
Our cinematic journey begins with a film program around the turn of the 20th century when the homosexual liberation movement for the first time began to gather pace in Germany. “The Einstein of Sex” by Rosa von Praunheim is dedicated to the father of the world’s first gay movement and founder of sexual science in late 19th-century Berlin, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. With a German star cast (including Otto Sander, Ben and Meret Becker) and activist queens from 1980s Berlin, this biopic takes us straight to the beginning of European modernity.
What made the gay movement necessary first and foremost was Prussian legislation, which had criminalized homosexual men throughout Germany since the founding of the Reich in 1871. In “Paragraph 175,” the two-time Oscar winning American directors Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman make the law’s ominous history tangible through the Nazi era. The film remains the most comprehensive documentary on this specifically German experience to date and won awards at Sundance (Best Director) and the Berlinale (Fipresci and Teddy) in 2000.
The first gay movie in film history must also be mentioned here: “Different from the Others” is a 1919 film about the fatal impact of paragraph 175, directed by Richard Oswald. Magnus Hirschfeld, who makes a cameo appearance in the film, co-authored it. (Not to be confused with the ambiguously dark 1957 film of similar title by Jud Süß director Veit Harlan.)
Every non-conforming minority makes its own specific coming-out and discrimination experience, so the world looked (and still looks) different for lesbians and trans people. Leontine Sagan’s 1931 Girls in Uniform, based on the play by Christa Winsloe, was a milestone. The love story between two women, in combination with relationships of power and dependence, fascinated society beyond its time. The film was remade in 1950 in Mexico and 1958 in West Germany. The trans story of Viktor and Viktoria (Reinhold Schünzel, 1933) had an even more lasting impact, with remakes still being made today. Some are able to extract more and some less emancipatory messages out of the transvestite comedy.
In LOVE IN THOUGHTS, Achim von Borries explores the fascination 1920s Berlin in a stylistically confident and sensitive way. A chamber piece between three upper-class teenagers and a young chef, the film deals with youth-relevant issues such as the discovery of sexuality, existentialist questions, and suicidal thoughts. It appeals to moviegoers of all ages and portrays the end of imperialist society as a time of social upheavals, but also of cultural change. A young star cast (Daniel Brühl, August Diehl, Anna Maria Mühe, Jana Pallaske, Thure Lindhardt) does its part to spark interest in both queer topics and German cinema. Von Borries is a co-creator of the current blockbuster TV show Babylon Berlin.
With his film recommendations (in UPPERCASE) Wieland Speck traces central themes of social development in Germany. The recommendations are accompanied by additional proposals (in "quotes").