Different from the Others (or Anders als die Andern in the original German) is a pioneering German silent film. It was directed by Richard Oswald and written by him and Real Life sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. It was made to protest Paragraph 175, the part of German law that banned homosexuality (but only for men) under the threat of prison time.
Conrad Veidt stars as Paul Körner, a gay concert violinist in love with Kurt Sivers, his music student, and blackmailed by Bolleck, a man he met at a gay bar who threatens to reveal him as gay, a crime under Paragraph 175. When he learns of Bollecks extortion, Kurt leaves and takes up a job playing violin in pubs. Paul grows increasingly depressed and recalls his first romance as a student, his college days, and other memories. Eventually, Paul decides to take Bolleck to court for blackmail. But, under Paragraph 175, Paul is as guilty as Bolleck. The resulting scandal threatens Paul and others with ruin.
The film was extremely controversial when it came out, and it ended up banned in many cities. All complete copies of the films are believed to have been destroyed in 1933 when the Nazis burned Magnus Hirschfelds library. Today, it exists in a 50 minute fragment that had been cut from the original film to use for educational purposes. Paul Körner is widely believed to be the first sympathetic gay character portrayed in a film.
Different from the Others contains examples of:
- Blackmail: Bolleck can report Paul for violating Paragraph 175 and will if he is not paid off.
- Bury Your Gays: Paul Körner is blackmailed, estranged from his lover, rejected by his family, and loses his contract with a concert company before his suicide. Kurt tries to kill himself after returning to find Paul dead, but is stopped by Dr. Hirschfeld.
- Cure Your Gays: A flashback reveals that Paul had tried this in the past, having visited a hypnotist. It didnt work.
- Driven to Suicide: Paul Körner, near the end, and narrowly averted with Kurt Sivers.
- Dying Alone: By the time Paul commits suicide, he was estranged from Kurt, his concert company ended their contract, no one on the street will acknowledge him, and his own father implied that suicide was the only honourable thing to do.
- Gay Aesop: Made with the express purpose of educating people about homosexuality. One of the earliest examples.
- Gayngst: Probably the earliest example in film. None of the named gay characters have it well, but its the worst for Paul who eventually is Driven to Suicide.
- The Hero Dies: The film ends with Pauls suicide.
- Hypocrite: Possibly. While in a gay bar, Bolleck speaks to another man who appears to be his lover (though he may only be an accomplice) about the blackmailing.
- Incompatible Orientation: Several instances, but most notably Paul and Kurts sister, Else.
- Interrupted Suicide: Dr. Hirschfeld stops Kurt from killing himself after Pauls suicide.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Paul and Kurt, because of Paragraph 175.
- Suicide Dare: The letter Pauls father writes to him essentially says that Death Is the Only Option. In the end, Paul does kill himself.