T. alt.: Paragraph hundertfünfundsiebzig. Scen.: Magnus Hirschfeld, Richard Oswald. F.: Max Fassbender. Scgf.: Emil Linke. Int.: Conrad Veidt (Paul Körner), Fritz Schulz (Kurt Sivers), Reinhold Schünzel (Franz Bollek), Anita Berber (Else Sivers), Leo Connard (padre di Paul), Ilse von Tasso (sorella di Paul), Alexandra Wiellegh (madre di Paul). Prod.: Richard-Oswald-Produktion. 35mm. L.: 1028 m (incompleto). D.: 50’ a 18 f/s. B&W and tinted.
Anders als die Andern is probably the first gay-themed film in the history of cinema. It was created by the director and screenwriter Richard Oswald and the psychologist Dr Magnus Hirschfeld with the goal of liberating homosexuals from public discrimination and legal persecution. The German law Paragraph 175, enacted in 1871, made homosexual acts between males a crime (sexual acts between women were not prohibited). Therefore thousands of gay men were sent to jail, which often resulted in the demolition of their social life and status. In Anders als die Andern, Oswald and Hirschfeld advance strong and logical arguments against the inhumane law. The film was released in Germany in 1919, at a time when there was no film censorship. The reception was heavily divided: some critics and part of the audience appreciated the concern of the film, but at other screenings the film was rejected totally and there are even press reports of riots in cinemas. The film argues vehemently that homophobia and not homosexuality, is the real scourge of society, but some people were simply candalized because the two romantic leads (Conrad Veidt and Reinhold Schünzel) were men. Rightwing conservative and nationalist circles used Anders als die Andern as a reason to advance the re-introduction of censorship, and they succeeded very rapidly. Censorship was re-established in 1920 and Anders als die Andern was banned immediately. It seems likely that in the 1930s the Nazis destroyed most of the surviving material from this important movie. After the war, the film was considered to be lost for more than 40 years. The incomplete version that exists today is one of the jewels of silent filmmaking. It is extremely modern and a timeless appeal for tolerance.