Germany has been churning out gay hits for nearly a century. Here, 11 gay movies, from the dramatic to the comedic, from the absurd to the touching, from the Weimer Republic to unified Berlin, straight out of Germany.
1. Michael ("Michael"), 1924: Based on Herman Bang's 1902 novel, Mikaël, and directed by legendary silent movie filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer, this Weimer Republic-era picture, also called Mikaël, Chained: The Story of the Third Sex, ruffled a few feathers for its frank, sympathetic portrayal of a painter who falls for one of his male models, but mostly the critics were either too shy to discuss it or it went over their heads.
2. Die Büchse der Pandora ("Pandora's Box"), 1929: Actress Alice Roberts reportedly wasn't keen on playing tuxedo-wearing lesbian Countess Augusta Geschwitz in this pre-talkie feature, but she did anyway, pulling off the role of a woman lusting after Louise Brooks's Lulu, a woman on her way toward the end of her wits, and Jack the Ripper's blade.
3. Mädchen in Uniform ("Girls in Uniform"), 1931: While homosexuality was simply alluded to in the aforementioned flicks, it was on full display in Mädchen in Uniform, the tale of a boarding school girl who falls for her teacher. The movie, based on Christa Winsloe's play Gestern und heute, was so influential that it was remade in 1958. It was such a big deal in the US when it came out that there was an immediate Broadway adaptation, and Irving Thalberg asked for more lesbian undertones to be added to the script for Queen Christina, starring Garbo.
4. Anders als du und Ich ("Different From You and Me"), 1957: Not to be confused with the similarly gay 1919 movie Anders als die Andern ("Different from the Others"), this mid-20th Century narrative revolves around rich kid Klaus's affair with a lower-class peer named Manfred. Drama ensues. And drama also ensued when the picture came out — not only were conservatives displeased with the gay content, early gay activists were livid over an ending in which, spoiler alert, Klaus is "cured" of his homosexuality. This clip shows Klaus mooning over his unrequited love. The entire movie, subtitles and all, is also available at YouTube.
5. Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt ("It Is Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But The Society In Which He Lives"), 1971: Perhaps one of the most controversial gay features ever to come out of Germany, or anywhere else, this mouthful of a movie and its portrayal of gay men as shallow, fashion-obsessed, limp wristed weaklings created such a stir that the videotaped criticisms from gay activists constitute their own short. It's called "Audience Response to It's not the Homosexual…"
See clips from films from 1975 to 2004 on the following page.
6. Faustrecht der Freiheit ("Fox and His Friends"), 1975: Iconic New Cinema filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed, wrote, and starred in this story of a gay man who falls for a wealthy heir.
7. Taxi zum Klo ("Taxi to the John", or "Taxi to the Toilet"), 1981: Frank Ripploh's semi-autobiographical drama about a prim and proper school teacher with a hardcore after-hours sex life was groundbreaking and sensational for its time, and indeed remains a cult classic (and one of the sexiest gay films according to director John Cameron Mitchell). There's also a 1987 sequel called Taxi Nach Kairo.
8. Ein Virus kennt keine ("A Virus knows No Morals"), 1986: Released in 1986, at the height of the AIDS crisis, this musical uses comedy to address a terrifying plague. In this clip, the nurses use song to stress condom use and safer sex.
9. Coming Out ("Coming Out"), 1989: There's no need for translation to understand Heiner Carow's coming-of-age tale set in East Germany, which -- fun fact! -- premiered the very night the Berlin Wall collapsed.
10. Lola und Bilidikid (Lola and Billy The Kid), 1999: Writer/Director Kutluğ Ataman had hoped to film this story of a young man trying to reconcile his homosexuality with Islam in Turkey, the main character's family's homeland, but he couldn't shore up enough support. Thus, filming was moved to Berlin, where the movie actually takes place.
11. Männer wie wir ("Guys and Balls"), 2004: No, this flick -- which literally translates to "Men Like Us" -- isn't a camp remake of Guys and Dolls, though that would be spectacular. Instead, Sherry Hormann's rom-com tackles homophobia in sports by casting Maximilian Brückner as Ecki, a closeted soccer player who comes back strong after being booted from his team for being gay.