It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives

1971 [GERMAN]

Documentary / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.5 10 450

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1 hr 4 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by fabiog-26-358885 9 / 10

Fight for your rights! and we did it... (the best we could...)

It's excellent. It's a great essay (done in a particular and creative way) on gay life by a gay man who lived in Berlin in 1970, and it sounds valid even today to think about the progress we have made. 50 years later, we can say, many good things have happened for homosexual people in many countries of the world and societies have changed too. As the movie asks for, many of us have come together and fought for our rights (and still are) ... Equality marriage is a reality (even parenthood by adoption or surrogacy, etc.) not even imagined in this movie . We also navigate the water of AIDS... We learned how to maintain a relationship for years or decades (through agreements that are often not so "classic")... and even we helped heterosexuals to expand their options in terms of ways of being as a couple or building a family (for example through civil unions, or open relationships, etc...) And most importantly, we learned how to overcome the internal homophobia, the self-hatred that many of us had developed as children, simply because our family and the people around us were homophobic ... I think this is the main subject of this film ... The fight against homophobia starting with ourselves and of course the others (the macho culture, the submission of women , the religions built around that, etc.). And we did ... (and we still are) ..

Reviewed by barkingechoacrosswaves 8 / 10

A must-see for any GLBTQ person or cultural historian

This movie is a kind of fictionalized documentary or perhaps it would be better to call it a cinematic essay. In either case, the movie follows the evolution of a young man named Daniel who arrives in Berlin in a rather "unspoiled" state and gradually trades in both his shyness and his sincerity to better feed his escalating appetite for excitement in the big-city gay scene. As we follow Daniel's escapades, he is transformed into a jaded hedonist caught in his addiction to ever more exotic (read: campy) clothing and ever more depersonalized sexual experiences.

Scenes from Daniel's life and the various milieus he frequents are accompanied by voiceovers that are sometimes narrations, and that sometimes represent dialogue. There is no synch sound and the movie never even tries to pretend that the sound was recorded together with the picture. Thus, this film is determinedly "low-fi" and has a crude and vibrant aesthetic that is well attuned to the subject matter it covers.

For most of the movie, the voiceovers are highly astringent -- steeped in cynicism, bitterness and melancholy. Seen from today's perspective after the tremendous cultural evolution that has occurred since 1971 with respect to gays and their acceptance in society this film often looks and sounds very dated indeed, but not so dated as many viewers might prefer to think. Many of the topics covered here with scathing honesty -- the idolization of youth and marginalization of older gays; the materialism of gays; the competitiveness of gays; and the hypersexualization of gay "culture" with its tendency to cause isolation and loneliness -- these basic themes are still quite operative in today's supposedly modern gay world where the mainstream acceptance so ardently craved by some gays seems all but assured.

See this movie and get a wholly authentic taste of the witty, insightful and unhappy man who made it. This is a brilliant document, often highly entertaining when viewed in the proper spirit, and a valuable window not just on the dawn of the gay rights era but on the underside of today's supposedly brave new gay world.

Reviewed by Horst_In_Translation 2 / 10

A missed opportunity on making an important statement

"It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives" (I will not mention the German title because it is so long and will give a dozen spelling mistakes) is a West German German-language movie from 1971, so this one has its 45th anniversary this year. It is an early career effort by Rosa von Praunheim, who was not even 30 at that point and he is still known today for being one of the most influential homosexual filmmakers, even if pretty much all of his works went under the radar during his long career. And the title here already tells you the subject of this mix of fiction and documentary movie. There are so so many gay-themed (short )films coming out these days 8and in the last 15-20 years) that still act as if homosexuality was a huge problem, but this is incorrect as the majority of people have grown really tolerant by now. But back in the early 1970s, it was completely different. Homosexuality was a complete taboo, so RvP (actually a Latvian-born filmmaker) had an outstanding opportunity to really make a difference on an important subject and show audiences the path of understanding and tolerance for the future. He did no such thing. The only intention I see here is probably to shock as many people as possible. There is not a single stereotype about gays that is not included here. This refers to leather police outfits, to cross-dressing, to causal sex at public toilets (ewwwwwww..) and more. The narration is not good, but the acting, especially the voice acting are way worse admittedly and make this almost an unbearable watch because the actors are (almost )all so so bad. Yeah well, I see von Praunheim here trying to be as controversial as possible and this is probably a reason (besides the title )why this film here is still relatively well-known today, especially in the LBGT community. The best thing about it, for me, is certainly how short it was, only slightly longer than an hour. I don't recommend the watch. Not at all.

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