Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original Title: Die Konsequenz
West Germany, 1977. Solaris Film, Westdeutscher Rundfunk. Screenplay by Alexander Ziegler, Wolfgang Petersen, based on the novel by Alexander Ziegler. Cinematography by Jörg-Michael Baldenius. Produced by Bernd Eichinger. Music by Nils Sustrate. Production Design by O. Jochen Schmidt. Costume Design by Josef Satzinger, Gabriele Zu Solms. Film Editing by Hannes Nikel. Toronto International Film Festival 1978.
This early film by director Wolfgang Petersen, shot artfully in black and white and starring Jürgen Prochnow, is a plea for sympathy for gay male relationships in a world that criminalizes them. Prochnow plays an actor who is put in prison for having had an affair with a 15 year-old boy and, while in the clink, takes part in a play being put on by prisoners. Their production has the added assistance of the warden’s handsome young son (Ernst Hannawald), who is immediately smitten with Prochnow despite being warned to stay away from him. The two begin a love affair that they hope will be free of restriction once the older man’s sentence is finished and he is set free, but things only get worse when Hannawald’s father comes after them and separates them by putting his son in reform school. More attempts at escape and reunion follow, but how long can two people maintain faith in themselves and each other when each threat to their relationship is also a personal degradation that leaves its mark. Petersen definitely lays it a bit too thick with this romantic melodrama (let me guess, it’s society that is sick and not the individual) and it feels a bit like a lecture, but the hot chemistry between the two lead actors and the convincing nature of their relationship makes it feel genuinely sympathetic at its most manipulative.