Bent (1997)

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High impact sex scenes and holocaust themes

Director: Sean Mathias
Actors: Clive Owen, Lothaire Bluteau, Ian McKellen, Mick Jagger, Jude Law

Max (a very spunky Clive Owen) is a young Jewish gay man in 1930s Berlin who, after a fateful tryst with a German soldier, is forced to run for his life. Pursued and captured, Max is placed in a concentration camp where he prefers to be identified by the yellow star (for Jews), because in the eyes of the Nazis, gays (who wear the pink triangle) are the lowest form of human being. But it takes a forbidden relationship with openly gay and proud prisoner, Horst (Lothair Bluteau, from Jesus of Montreal) to enable Max to accept himself and also stand up for his innate dignity and freedom, even in the most seemingly hopeless of circumstances. The scene where the two prisoners make love right under the watchful eyes of their guards, without ever touching, is a spine-tingling tour de force. The original stageplay from the 1970s has been faithfully adapted by its playwright, Martin Sherman, and has cameos from Ian McKellan (who originated the role of Max on the stage in 1979) and Mick Jagger as a Berlin Cabaret era drag queen! While the play made people aware about the hitherto overlooked Nazi internment of homosexuals, the ultimate message of this devastatingly powerful play is that intolerance cannot destroy self-respect and love. You can also read the original play, and also watch the Robert Epstein documentary about homosexuality in Nazi Germany, Paragraph 175.

Status: QuickPick
Run time: 105mins
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 2.0

Member Reviews (7)

The Movie Kritic
If you aren't into art-house than you won't enjoy this movie. Originally staged on Broadway in 1980 with Richard Gere in the role of Max, it's filming comes across as a play filmed for the screen. Heavy going in parts, it reminds us of Mans' inhumanity to Man that sadly can still be found in todays' world. Very surreal in makeup (the continuous scenes of moving rocks from one pile to another for no apparent reason) you can sympathize with people who awoke one day and found their world had plunged into madness. Any movie who has Mick Jagger as an aging Drag Queen is worth a look even if you don't watch this drama to the end!
Posted Friday, 7 February 2014 See my other reviews
I'm not gay and I think this movie is probably more interesting for people who are. What I was interested in was the Nazi attitude and behaviour towards homosexuality, I didn't want to watch graphic gay sex scenes. Having said all that, the performances were magnificent (I don't mean the sex scenes, except the one in the POW camp), the message powerful and a wonderful affirmation of love and self acceptance.
Posted Wednesday, 29 January 2014 See my other reviews
During this I wondered whether it was a foil to the high camp of Cabaret. As said below, probably works better as a play as the movie seemed too out of balance. Still, a very worthwhile addition to the historical movie genre and the gay movie genre.
Posted Sunday, 31 March 2013 See my other reviews
I suspect that it works better as a play. That said, it is still a very powerful film. It has an artificial surrealistic quality imbued with symbolism, it is stylish and confronting. It explores aspects of depravity in ways that are challenging and shocking. Many films have depicted the cruelty of the Nazi era and ‘Bent’ is no exception. It begins in the time of Weimar Republic, specifically Berlin; its decadence, openness and acceptance of gay culture that is threatened and eventually destroyed by the Nazis. The scenes in the ‘gay bars’ are lavish in design but unrealistic, a total fantasy and not meant to be real. The depravity of the Nazi’s, their hypocritical attitude to sex and especially male-to-male sex is shockingly exposed as the film progresses. They are not human beings but human monsters. However, the overriding theme is the self-esteem of the human spirit that withstands the horror to which it is subjected. Two men personify dignity, courage, fear and understanding as they learn to love each other despite their horrendous situation.
Posted Friday, 25 May 2012 See my other reviews
This was a good movie, not my typical sort. Well acted great narration.
Posted Wednesday, 16 November 2011 See my other reviews
This is a painful jem of a movie... the contrasts between the 2 characters is exquisitly portrayed... a must see
Posted Monday, 17 October 2011 See my other reviews
The first 15 minutes or so were fabulous (I would love to go to a party like that) but it didn't take long for the serious nature of the story to take hold and start you on a journey that shocks, saddens, angers and yet captivates, giving the viewer a real insight to life for some at that time. Clive Owen shows us another reason why he has become such a successful and much loved actor.
Posted Monday, 29 March 2010 See my other reviews
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