We all know there is a HUGE selection of LGBT themed films out there available to watch. Many are recent while some began to come into mainstream media in the 1990’s.
But is it possible that the first film ever to showcase a gay couple was made over a 100 years ago?
The answer is yes.
A few years ago the UCLA Film and Television Archives discovered a film that was produced in 1919 Germany. During that time in Germany, a Social Democratic government came into power allowing long-standing censorship laws to be lifted. Acting quickly, filmmaker Richard Oswald joined with psychiatrist and gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld to write and produce the first gay centered film.
Different From The Others was a 90 minute film centered around a famous violinist and his male student. This was a drama that showed a love affair between the two men. Although the film did not show any sex, it is very clear in the film that the two men were in love. Unfortunately, the film suffered many vicious attacks from the right-wing press calling Oswald a “perverted Jew”.
The complete physical copy of the film was lost except for 40 minutes that Hirschfeld edited into a 1926 documentary about tolerance.
As part of the preservation, the gay and lesbian film festival, Outfest, partnered with UCLA Film and Television Archives has reassembled those 40 minutes based on Oswald’s screenplay.
“To use the term ‘restore’ would be wrong,” says Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archives. “There’s not enough footage for a real restoration. But what we have put together allows people to experience the remarkable culture that existed in Berlin in the 1920s, which was wiped out, of course, by the Nazis. As far as I know, this is the earliest document we have of gays and lesbians being represented on-screen.”
This is an incredible piece of LGBT history. This may be the first example of LGBT people being depicted in film. This also may be one of the first steps towards the fight for LGBT equality.
Released in released in 1919 and starring Conrad Veidt and Reinhold Schünzel. you can watch scenes from Different From Others below: