Movie Review ~ “Bent” (1997)

Ken Painter By Ken Painter, 2nd Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>History

Amid the horrors of The Holocaust in Dachau concentration camp in 1934, two gay men one with a pink triangle and one faking it with a Jewish star try to survive day-to-day life.

Movie Review ~ “Bent” (1997)

Okay. I’ll admit my biases right upfront. Being the bleeding-heart liberal that I am, I’m pretty much a sucker for the topic of The Holocaust. Movies like Julia (with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave), Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award winning Schindler's List, and the 60’s Judgment at Nuremburg with its huge international cast always have fascinated me. Not to be outdone, even books on the subject like Ken Follett’s recent tome, the second of his Century Trilogy, Winter of the World, leave me hungry for more on this subject. For some reason, when I’m reading about or watching movies on this most dreadful of subjects it’s like I’m looking at a train wreck. True confession time, and I don’t know why.

Thrown into this mixture is the fact that I’m gay, and make no mistake about it Bent is a film about what happens to homosexuals in Germany during the Holocaust. This haunting 1997 film by director Sean Mathias is based upon Martin Sherman’s stage play first produced in 1979 which is still touring throughout the world today. The title refers to one of the slang terms for homosexuals used in Europe at that time. The movie stars Clive Owen as Max a promiscuous gay man living in Berlin during the 1930’s, Brian Webber as Rudy his dancer boyfriend, and Mick Jagger (yes, THE Mick Jagger) as Greta the drag queen who owns a prominent club in Berlin who begins the show with a song not to be missed. Also in tow are Sir Ian McKellan as Owen’s Uncle Freddie, and most prominently (the virtually unknown to American audiences French Canadian actor) Lothaire Bluteau who turns in such a brilliant piece of acting I don’t know how AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences aka Academy Awards) missed it. Simply brilliant!

Having failed to escape Berlin for Amsterdam, on “The Night of the Long Knives” in 1934, Max and Rudy (Owen and Webber) get nabbed by the Gestapo and put on a train for Dachau where Rudy gets beaten to death for wearing glasses, and Max (in order to stay alive) disavows any knowledge of even knowing Rudy, sort of like Peter disavowing Christ. Max makes a deal with his captors to stay alive and receives a Jewish star rather than a pink triangle for his efforts. Queers are the lowest of the low.

On the train just before reaching Dachau, Max has met Horst (Bluteau) a pink triangle who becomes sort of a guide and conscientious sounding board to him. Because they wear different badges they stay in different barracks, and so Max arranges for Horst to have the same work detail as him, carrying rocks. In such a way they can at least talk. And in this way they fall in love though they cannot touch at all. Talk and thought is their transmission of love and day-to-day camp survival.

This film to me is about the triumph of free will amidst the most horrible of times as expressed through the Nazi domination of Central Europe during these years. We now know what they did to so many, many different groups. Bent shows to the world in its own unique and unflinching way what was done to the pink triangles.

May I recommend to you that if you have not seen Bent you do so. It’s available on Netflix and also on YouTube.


Concentration Camp, Film, Film Review, Films, Holocaust, Holocaust Targets, Holocaust Victims, Homosexual Prejudice In Society, Homosexuals, Nazi, Nazi Germany, Nazi Ideology, Nazi Rule, Nazism, Review, Reviews, War

Meet the author

author avatar Ken Painter
Retired Chicago public school teacher. Singer, songwriter, musician, author, & opinionated old curmudgeon. Married to my husband & living in Colorado, USA. Also a father & grandfather.

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