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Anders als die Andern

1. November 2019 – 24. February 2020

Exhibition: 1st November 2019 – 24th February 2020
Vernissage: 31st October 2019, 7pm

This educational film full of melodrama and instructions on hygiene and medicine turned into a major hit with audiences one hundred years ago: Anders als die Andern (“Different from the others”) by Richard Oswald was a complete success in 1919, and sold out screenings for weeks in cities like Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Stockholm and Amsterdam. At the same time, the movie set a milestone for the gay movement by showing gay sexuality for the very first time on screen.

Magnus Hirschfeld played the role of a sexologist, who tried to help an unhappy violin virtuoso, portrayed by Conrad Veidt, with hypnosis; and by educating his favourite student’s (Fritz Schulz) family about homosexuality. In the climax of the movie, Hirschfeld gives a rousing speech on the rights of homosexuals, conveyed through inserted texts in the silent movie.

Conrad Veidt, ca 1925 (Deutsche Kinemathek)

First World War- Revolution- Women’s Suffrage

There was a great period of upheaval after the first world war, and because of this time of change, it was possible to show such a tabooed issue as male homosexuality in movies. The exhibition thematizes the destruction of old values and the potential of emancipation which develops out of it and can be split into three thematic plots: the First World War, the November Revolution and the introduction of voting rights for women. On the basis of a reconstructed version of Anders als die Andern, and by means of original documents like posters, photographs and programmes, the exhibition conveys the beginning of gay movie history.

The film will be shown in a permanent loop in the exhibition and will also be screened at a film evening (in January/February 2020). The film is accompanied in the exhibition by portraits of the lives and works of the participating actors and directors: Richard Oswald, Magnus Hirschfeld, Anita Berber, Fritz Schulz, Reinhold Schünzel, Conrad Veidt and Karl Giese.

From Public Favourite to Oblivion

The movie premiered with about forty copies, which is a sensationally high number for the time the movie debuted and illustrates the film’s success. Soon after, however, the movie was caught in crossfire from critics. On the pretext of youth protection opponents of the movie concealed their homophobic fears and prejudices. Antisemitism was also revealed, not only in conservative papers but also in gay magazines from the Friedrich Radszuweit- publishing company. Hirschfeld and Oswald, who were both Jewish, were accused of encouraging the ‘Jewish vice’ of homosexuality.

Reinhold Schünzel und Conrad Veidt in “Anders als die Andern” (Fotoarchiv Deutsche Kinemathek)

Because of the decreasing interest in educational films and the introduction of censorship on the 25th of April 1920, Anders als die Andern was almost forgotten. Only the national Moscow film archive was in possession of an incomplete copy of the movie. The copy was used by the Munich film museum to reconstruct the movie. To prepare the exhibition Eldorado at the Berlin Museum- which was the first museum presentation about homosexuality worldwide, and sparked the initiative to form the Schwules Museum – curator Wolfgang Theis rescued the forgotten movie.

To mark the 100th anniversary, the Schwules Museum is cooperating with the Museum for Film and Television in Berlin and the Museum for Film and Television Munich to dedicate a big show to Anders als die Andern. Many thanks to our cooperation partners and our curator, Wolfgang Theis. Wolfgang Theis was a founding member of the Schwules Museum in 1985 and curator of many exhibitions such as “Goodbye to Berlin? 100 years of the gay movement“, “Marlene and the Third Sex: Homage on Marlene Dietrich’s 100th Birthday“, “Rosa is retiring – Tribute to the 65th birthday of Rosa von Praunheim”.