Director: Sean Mathias.
Starring: Mick Jagger (Greta), Clive Owen (Max), Brian Webber (Rudy), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Wolf), Jude Law (Stormtrooper), Gresby Nash (Waiter), Suzanne Bertish (Half-Woman - Half-Man), David Meyer (Gestapo Man), Stefan Marling (SS Captain), Richard Laing (SS Guard), Crispian Belfrage (SS Guard), Ian McKellen (Uncle Freddie), Lothaire Bleuteau (Horst).
two gay men come to the attention of the Gestapo in Germany
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
A homosexual named Max has a steady boyfriend named Rudy. There are some young fellows in the homosexual nightclub who look like they are with the Hitler Youth. They and our hero Max start up a sexual relationship, which leaves the steady boyfriend out. The homosexual singer at the club, named Greta, talks with a man from the Gestapo. The Gestapo fellows asks questions about the homosexual Hitler Youth. He has the singer identify the person from a photograph of an army unit. The singer picks out the right man.
The next morning the Gestapo comes for the homosexuals. They knock loudly on the apartment door. When the door is opened the Gestapo pour into the apartment. They grab the Hitler Youth fellow, but Max and Rudy get away. The leader has two men hold the homosexual and then he then cuts the throat of the man. The two apartment owners rush to see the singer. The singer finishes getting dressed and then he sets his little place on fire. All three of the guys get on a bus. They ask the singer Greta who was that blonde young fellow? The singer says he was Wolfgang Grantz, who was the boyfriend of Karl Ernst. Now the guys want to know who is this Karl Ernst? Karl Ernst was von Helldorf's deputy. And von Helldorf is second-in-command of the Storm Troopers, immediately under Ernst Rohm. Ernst is, as Rudy says: "a fat queen" who loves to have sex with "beautiful boys".
Last night Hitler had Ernst Rohm arrested and taken to a prison cell (where he was later executed after refusing to take his own life). The SA leadership was filled with homosexuals and, besides, Rohm had different ideas of how the SA should be used in Hitler's Germany. Hitler wanted him eliminated to prevent any embarrassing situations for him and his fascist party. This was a long standing grievance that Hitler had witht Rohm, the leader of the SA. Hitler had a lot of the homosexual leaders of the SA also killed in what became known as the Night of the Long Knives.
So, according to Greta (who now wants to be known as George), queer is no longer in fashion. "Queer is dead." Max and Rudy just got involved with the wrong young man. Greta says he is going to the church to pray. Max asks him how much money the Gestapo gave him for the information about Wolfgang Grantz? Greta gives Max some of the money. Max wants more of it and threatens to rat on Greta if he doesn't get it. So Greta gives Max more money. As Max gets ready to leave, Greta tells him: "I won't say a word to the Gestapo until the service is over."
Rudy tells Max that he is not leaving Berlin. He can't leave because he has already paid for dance class for the next two weeks. Max says they have to go. He leaves without Rudy, but then quickly comes back for him. Rudy asks where are they going?
More than a year later. Uncle Freddie talks with Max. He gives him some passport papers. He says Max has been on the run with that dancer since 1934. Freddie gives Max one ticket to Amsterdam, but Max insists he needs two tickets and two new identity cards. Max goes on to say that once in Amsterdam he will ditch Rudy. He will return to the family and serve them well by marrying a rich woman who has button factories like the family has. He will lead a quiet life and after the war Uncle Freddie can bring him back to Germany. Freddie is afraid they are being watched by someone and tells Max to walk away.
Rudy works at digging ditches. After work Rudy and Max walk together and Max says he has cut another deal. Rudy complains that he did the same thing in Hamburg and then in Stuttgart and now he's tired of Max's deals. Rudy says he wants them to try to just sneak over the border. A fellow worker says he knows a few spots that are safe to cross at. Max gets really mad at Rudy for talking to anyone about their whereabouts and their plans. The co-worker could easily tell the Gestapo.
The Gestapo are coming with the help of two Doberman Pinchers. The guys just live in a large barrel in the forest. Max hears some noise outside, checks and sees a Gestapo man coming toward them. Max and Rudy make a run of it, but run right into the Gestapo. Now they are prisoners on a train heading to a concentration camp. An SS guard takes Rudy's glasses from him, then tells Rudy to step on them. Rudy does what he is told. Now the SS fellow tells the other guards to take Rudy away. Rudy yells out for Max and now the SS fellow turns his attention to Max. The guard leaves the train car.
Max hears Rudy being whipped as he cries out from the pain. Max starts to get up but a young man named Horst stops him saying he cannot help his friend or they both will be killed. Max asks the fellow where they are being taken? To a detention camp, probably Dachau (northwest of Munich in Bavaria). The fellow tells Max that if you are queer you have to wear a pink triangle on your uniform Jews get a yellow star, political prisoners a red triangle and criminals a green triangle. He says: "Pink is as low as you can get." Horst goes on to say that if Max wants to survive, his friend will have to be dead to him. Max keeps repeating that this isn't happening. He cries.
The SS man brings Rudy back and asks Max who is this man? Max says he doesn't know. Three times Max denies knowing Rudy. Now the SS man makes Max hit Rudy with his fist. Max starts hitting Rudy with his hands, but doesn't hit hard enough for the SS man. He goes crazy beating Max and has to be stopped. "Your friend?" "No," says Max. The officer leaves Rudy in a heap on the train floor. No one dares try to help Rudy. Later the officer comes back and has Rudy thrown out of the box car while the train is still rushing along.
They take Max to a room filled with guards along with a young woman in a slip. They probably want him to have him have sex with the girl to prove that he can.
The train arrives at the camp. Max shows Horst that he took a yellow star. The fellow is surprised at Max's choice. Max asks him how he got his pink triangle? By signing a petition of support for Magnus Hirschfeld, the fellow who wanted to legalize homosexuality. Hoear says he was once a nurse. Max says he made a deal with the Gestapo to get the yellow star. Horst say he doesn't want to hear about this, so he tells Max that friendships in camp lasts about 12 hours and their time together is up. He marches farther to the front of the line they are walking in.
Later Max tries to tell Horst about the deal he made. He says he had to have sex with a dead 13 year old girl on the train. They shot her. Max says that the girl saved his life. When his "friend" tries to soothe him, he tells him not to touch him for he is a rotten person and also Horst shouldn't touch him for his own protection against the SS and the Gestapo. Later he tells Horst: "I'm going to stay alive."
The men get all their hair shaved off, including chest hair. They are then put in their uniforms. Max moves rocks from one big pile to make the pile big on the opposite side. He does this over and over again. He works alone. Now Horst is brought over to work for Max. Max now explains what is to be done. He says they have to move the rocks back and forth one at a time, in the hope that they will be driven mad.
Later Max tells his friend that he bribed a guard to have him moved under his supervision. Horst tells Max that he should have asked him if he wanted to be moved. Max says he did him a favor by getting him moved over. The guy is still mad and he says he doesn't want Max to speak to him at all. Max says he brought the fellow over so they could talk. He adds: "I thought you would be grateful." He isn't.
After three days the friend actually talks to Max. The two men compliment each other on their good bodies. Horst asks if Max misses having sex? He then suggests that they can have sex together. He describes how he would kiss Max's body all over. They start talking to each other in explicitly sexual terms until they both climax. They feel they have both beaten the system. They had sex without touching.
Horst says he think he's going crazy. He even dreams of rocks now. Max tells him to think of something else. He then tells his friend that he heard a rumor that they may get potatoes tomorrow. Max apologizes for bringing his friend over, but the friend tells him he is glad he is here. Max asks why? Because, Horst says, he loves Max. He even repeats it. Max tells the friend: "Don't love me." Horst says it makes him happy to love Max. He says when he rubs his left eyebrow that's the signal that he loves Max. Max says: "Queers aren't meant to love. They don't want us to." And besides, Max says he can't love anyone back. So the friend should hate him, not love him.
It's snowing outside and the men now wear coats as they carry the rocks back and forth. Horst really has a very bad cough and Max urges him to ask his barracks leader for some medicine. Horst says it doesn't matter. Max urges him to get the medicine. On a three minute break Max tells Horst he wants Horst to care about his fate. To warm Horst up, Max talks about his fingers becoming red hot. Later Max says: "You pulled away."
In order to get medicine for Horst, Max gives a blow job to the new captain. Horst gets better, but demands to know how Max got the medicine. Max tells him and Horst doesn't like it. Later the new captain gets suspicious. He watches Horst and Max and hears that its Horst that is coughing, not Max. The officer gave the medicine to Max, not to Horst. They stop before a barbed wire fence. The officer tells Horst to take off his hat and throw it onto the fence. He tells Max to watch. Horst throws the hat onto the barbed wire.
Now the officer tells Horst to fetch his hat. Horst delays because he knows they want him to kill himself by grabbing the wire. He walks over to the fence, but then turns around and races toward the officer. The guard shoots Horst with his automatic weapon. Horst falls onto the officer and then falls down dead. The officer goes over to Max and tells him that he hopes the medicine does help him. Then he tells Max to take care of the body. Max tells the body of Horst that he won't let him down. He will hold the dead body upright and will not drop him. Max tells the corpse that he thinks he loves him. And now he says: "I love you." He adds: "What's wrong with that?" Max cries. He places the body into a shallow pit and then goes back to work moving stones.
After awhile, Max stops working. He takes off Horst's clothes and puts his shirt on. Now he wears the pink triangle proudly. He goes over to the barbed wire fence and grabs the wire. He is electrocuted to death.
Spoiler Warning. Good film about the Holocaust. It wasn't only the Jews that were sent to concentration camps. In the film they mention other victims like the homosexuals, the political prisoners and the criminals. Max was a homosexual, but he chose to tell the Germans he was a Jew, because his friend Horst told him that the lowest of the low are the homosexuals who must wear pink triangles on their camp uniforms. Max was a man who could not love others, or so he thought. But when he is thrown into a concentration camp, he does fall in love with fellow inmate Horst. And he gradually learns how to love and give love and not just take. It's a sad ending, but a kind of noble ending too. Horst proudly puts on Horst's uniform shirt with the pink triangle and quietly walks over to the electrified fence and kills himself as a memorial to his friend and as a loving and a noble gesture.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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