A powerful, emotional, moving and extremely complex prison drama based on real events was filmed by Austrian Sebastian Miese. It was this prison drama with a somewhat ironic and even cynical title, Miese’s first film in ten years, and it deals with a dark episode from modern European and German history. Even during Bismarck’s time, Paragraph 175 was introduced into German law, according to which homosexuality was criminalized, and during the Nazi period, the penalties were further increased. Even after Germany got rid of Nazism, the controversial law remained in force until the end of the 1960s, and immediately in the introductory scenes recorded with an old eight-millimeter camera we will see why the main protagonist, Hans Hoffman (extraordinary Franz Rogowski) current German actor) end up in jail.
In something resembling a public restroom, he enters into a “clinch” with various types, and those recordings are clear evidence against him in court. The year was 1968 and Hans was sentenced to 24 months in prison for sexually deviant behavior. Then we go back to 1945 when we see Hans as a young man who is transferred from the Nazi concentration camp by the Americans who led Germany in those transitional years to an old prison that almost resembles a medieval dungeon. And we will follow Hans’s prison episodes in “Great Freedom” for almost a quarter of a century, and this realistic drama that was also an Austrian Oscar nominee could be described as a mix of “Midnight Express” and “Brokeback Mountains”.
It was a somewhat Kafkaesque, existentialist drama about a man who would spend almost his entire life behind bars without actually committing any crime. Hans’s only crime will be himself or his sexual orientation, and he acts as a character who endures everything that happens to him somehow stoically, quietly, calmly, although it is obvious that he is completely angry and helpless because of all this. Just like in many similar prison dramas, Hans will try to break down both physically and mentally, he will end up constantly in dark and cold solitary confinement, but we will see to the end how he will actually find some kind of freedom in prison life. could have out there.
In a particularly impressive and shocking ending to the film when the disputed paragraph is finally decriminalized and when Hans comes out, we realize that he no longer even knows how to live outside the prison system. A system that completely ruined his life, but also a system in which he could still be what he is and a system in which he found people similar to himself. Of course, this is a tragic story and timelines are constantly intertwined, almost merging, and we realize how much these imprisoned people lacked intimacy, so even those who may not be homosexual will find warmth and intimacy in a man’s embrace. We follow in these periods Hans’s relationship with two men, his roommate Viktor (Georg Friedrich), a drug addict who is initially hostile to Hans and is an obvious macho homophobe. There is also a young teacher Oscar (Thomas Prenn) who ended up behind bars for the same reasons as Hans and who will become Hans’ love of life.
Yet, as “Grosse Freiheit” (the so-called Fassbinder gay club from the end of the film in which Hans will wander) is primarily a tragedy, of course it can’t end well, and great Meise builds this complex drama he didn’t write according to personal story some specific persons, had long researched that period of German history and talked to the still surviving people who were victims of that era. Fascinatingly, Meise managed to build not only the characters, but also the relationships between them, and it’s no surprise that this film won a handful of awards in the Film of the Year pageants and at film festivals. He won “Great Freedom” and the Heart of Sarajevo, the award for best photography and music in the European Film of the Year competition, and the outstanding Rogowski was nominated for Best European Actor. Rating 8/10.
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