It was Veit Harlan, the protégé of Joseph Goebbels and the director of the anti-Semitic propaganda film Jew Suess, who dared to do a film about a controversial taboo in 1957: the German penal code's Paragraph 175 which...展开sentenced German homosexual men to jail terms for "unnatural vice between men." Anders als du und ich (Different from You and Me) is not only a film about homosexuality, it also deals with the rebellion of young people against the restorative Germany after the Second World War and with the problems of a mother who broke the law to do "the right thing". The DVD contains the censored version as well as a comparison with the original version Das dritte Geschlecht (The Third Sex), a cut scene and production stills.
Arca, a Berlin production company specialising in lowbrow entertainment, picked up a topical theme. In 1957, the German Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) had just re-inforced the § 175, the paragraphic delaring homosexual acitivites as unlawful, in its Nazi version, and denied gay victims of the Third Reich reparations. Arca assembled a quite above-average cast including famed Austrian actress Paula Wessely, Paul Dahlke and young Christian Wolff, today a well-regarded star of TV series. They had Felix Lützkendorf, an old routinier, write a screenplay, and had Veit Harlan, another old routinier, infamous for Nazi propaganda like Jew Suess, direct. It must have seemed like a sure moneymaker. However, the FSK (Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle, the German equivalent to the MPAA) wouldn't let the finished film pass: it would "foster perversion", the officials claimed, even promote the "decadent weaklings", the typical homosexual. So, desperate Arca had to re-cut the film, shoot new scenes, re-dub others and rename the film from its original title Das dritte Geschlecht (The Third Sex) to Anders als du und ich (Different from you and me), the subtitle "§ 175" being more than a slight hint about what kind of difference was alleged to.
It is true that every gay character we get to know is either a weakling (like Klaus' friend, a pale bean-pole writing novels with too many adjectives in them), a pervert or a criminal, but then, today every gay film character we get to know is either sympathetically funny or straight and respectable with his sexual taste just a little bit refined. Yours truly, having been a pale bean-pole writing novels with too many adjectives in them himself, has no doubt about his preferences. Furthermore, the representants of the Philistine "normal" world, above all Klaus' father, are hardly more endearing.
The film makers seem to have acquired their ideas about homosexuality solely on scientific (there's a credit for the Frankfurt Institute for Sexual Research, an actual real-life institution) and not-too-scientific accounts, madly oscillating between reasonable realism (including a monologue of Dr. Winkler about being chased and harrassed), odd misconceptions (like a gay bar looking as respectable and business-like as a restaurant set left over from a bourgeois drama) and unadultered nonsense, as in the laughable "orgy" scene with its low key lightning and two spindly semi-nude boys wrestling to Forbidden Planet-like music. Some dialogue scenes between Klaus' parents are intelligent and to the point. ("You're radiating an incertainty which is laughable", he tells her. "And you're radiating a certainty which scares one", she replies.) And there's a hard-boiled police inspector right out of a film noir. To Harlan's credit, he does manage to bring these disparate elements together, and the set pieces - which must have been quite daring in their time (including a short glimpse of the heroine's tit) - work well, until the film falls apart in its second half, courtesy of re-structuring efforts.
Amongst the more interesting side aspects of the production is the fact that electronic music was provided by Oskar Sala who later scored many Edgar Wallace movies as well as Hitchcock's The Birds. Dr. Winkler is played by Friedrich Joloff - reputedly gay himself, thus "outing" his life style with remarkable courage. Anders als du und ich remains a curiosity piece of the highest order, if only for a child psychologist's advising the hero's mother to let him fuck a girl and explaining: "This is, so to speak, a homeopathic advice."