Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Holocaust > Gay > Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Film: B+



The producer/director documentary filmmaking team of Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman has been one of the most prolific in all of documentary films.  Their previous films, The Times Of Harvey Milk, Common Threads: Tales From The Quilt, and The Celluloid Closet have been the epitome of excellence in a field that may be one of the most competitive in all of filmmaking.  Their new film, Paragraph 175 (2000) continues their remarkable output.


The title refers to the insane German law (extending outside of the country for reasons best explained in the documentary) that targeted homosexual males, not even lesbian females, for many decades, beginning in 1871.  This film shows its implementation, then its nightmarish expansion during the Nazi years.  The film also looks at how little has changed since the Nazis were in power, as well as how international homophobia continues to destroy countless lives when it is state sponsored.


The documentary combines older film footage with new interviews taped in the analog PAL format, which matches the frame rate of actual sound film.  This is common practice in documentary filmmaking, and even in dramatic TV production in countries like England. The result is an average presentation typical of the varied nature all such documentaries offer.  The anamorphic 1.78 X 1 presentation is a real plus in making this come alive, but increasing the fidelity to bring home the priceless points the filmmakers make.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is stereo and can actually be played back in Pro Logic.  The film offers a smart used of classic songs, along with the interview talking, and narration by actor Rupert Everett.  All is clear, even when it is in a foreign language.  Fidelity is not bad, but adds the older audio and other problems all documentary location taping offers, and the presentation of the sound is also average.  The subject is so vital and compelling, that fidelity is far from the most important issue concerning this particular DVD title, but knowing the presentation is as good as they could make it helps get its points across.


A law is passed against homosexual males in 1871 Germany, which is accelerated hen the Nazi’s take power over 60 years later, in part to stop the first gay civil rights movement. The results are sinister, catastrophic to gays & their advanced culture, and the fallout afterwards in some ways even more shocking.


Before getting to the actual DVD, there is a very informative viewer’s guide pull-out inside the DVD case that is exceptional for its limited space, but also offers websites to visit.  The DVD itself has the original theatrical trailer for the film, as well as for L.I.E., Taboo, A Love Divided, and Happenstance in a section that discusses First Run Features.  This includes other titles among the covers for these titles, which can be clicked on to for their trailers.  7 frame pages of text about the company, and its history to date, follow.  Finally, there is a section of additional interview footage that runs 11:45.


The interviewees included Gad Beck, Albrecht Becker, Heinz Dormer, Annette Eick, Heinz F., Karl Gorath, and Pierre Seel.  Primarily Dr. Klaus Muller conducted the interviews.  Narration is by actor Rupert Everett.  Editing by Dawn Logsdon, Written by Sharon Wood, Music by Tibor Szemzo, Camerawork by Bernd Meiners, Co-production by Howard Rosenman, Produced by Michael Ehrenzweig & Janet Cole, and Produced & Directed by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman.


The main program could have and should have gone on far longer than it had.  Materials in the paper pullout from the DVD suggest the program stopped short in a few too many places, but the extras help make up for that minor inconsistency.  As a package, this is up there with Berkeley In The Sixties and the many great Criterion documentary releases in being among the best issued on DVD to date.


One of the great ironies is that Hitler built his empire on the SA Brownshirts, who were founded and led by a known homosexual Ernst Rohm.  He lasted until it became too inconvenient to keep him, when he was killed in an infamous purge within the ranks.  Then, things got increasingly ugly for all gays in Germany.  The gay culture and world they destroyed was amazingly advanced, but as we all know, the Nazis were just warming up.


The fact that none of these men got reparations, or that 175 was officially abolished up to a century after its founding is one of the all-time outrages.  It was only a year AFTER this film that Germany officially acknowledged that homosexuals were even Nazi victims!  The fact that the Nazi propaganda footage used here has any royalties attached to it, let alone the highest around, and that all the money goes to the German government is unbelievable.  There is not enough room in this (or any) review to cover how ugly this gets or how great Paragraph 175 is, but this DVD is a serious must-see and must-have shedding light where darkness has reigned far too long.



-  Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com