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At-A-Glance

Length: 50 mins

About this Piece

Generally believed to be the first gay film in the history of cinema, this truly groundbreaking melodrama, created by director Richard Oswald and pioneering sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, was intended to denounce Paragraph 175 of the German penal code, which criminalized sexual relationships between men (women were simply not addressed). It follows the tragic gay love story of a famed concert pianist and his student, as they get blackmailed for violating Paragraph 175, leading to their ostracization, a jail sentence, and finally suicide. The film was banned by censors in 1920 soon after its release. With its concerns unfortunately still pressing around the globe, it remains a fascinating cinematic appeal for tolerance and social change.