Clive Owen, Lothaire Bluteau
Based on the stage play of the same name, this is a harrowing tale of how homosexuals were rounded up and shipped to 're-habilitation' camps during World War 2 by the Nazi's. where possibly tens of thousands of gay men and an indeterminate number of lesbian women died during this time of all nationalities.
This is the story of one man, Max, who suddenly finds his comfortable bohemian life in Berlin turned upside down when he and his boyfriend are caught and placed aboard a train to Dachau, where the younger man, a dancer, is murdered by a sadistic Nazi guard, who then forces Max to have sex with the corpse of a young woman to 'prove' he's not 'queer'.
Max has 'bought' a yellow Star of David, the symbol of a Jew instead of the pink triangle of a homosexual, which will place him at the lowest point a prisoner can get in the camp, but along the way he meets Horst, another gay prisoner who tries to help him.
Eventually, the two become friends and develop a 'relationship' despite not being allowed to touch each other or even look at each other.
Still, Max insists that he did the right thing by not being interred as a homosexual, that surviving is the most important thing no matter how or what it takes, but Horst feels that he should be true to himself.
The film ends very sadly, but with an almost upbeat moment where Max finally accepts that his homosexuality shouldn't be a secret, nor something to be ashamed of.
This is a deeply moving story, the film is shot in almost a 'theatre' manner and this only adds to the starkness and coldness of the settings.
It never preaches that the 'gay way is the right way and the good way', showing the gay scene in Berlin at the time almost as distasteful as what was happening around it and it makes no excuses for the sheer excess we're shown in the beginning when Max is living the life of a prince, cossetted by his club and the sychophants around him. It, in fact, only makes the stark inhumanity of the camp appear even more unbelievable and horryifying.
Not something to watch when you're feeling down, but it is immensely thought provoking and does make you realise how many have suffered for the relative 'freedom' of gays in the civilised world today and indeed wonder how many still suffer?