Stars: Jürgen Prochnow, Ernst Hannawald
Director: Wolfgang Peterson
Country Of Origin: West Germany
Year Of Release: 1977
Running time: 100 minutes
Star Rating: ****
Availability: Region 1 DVD
From it’s depressing opening to its distressing end, The Consequence is a gripping and moving film. It tells the story of Martin Kurath, an actor who is in prison for having underage sex with a fifteen year old boy. Whilst taking part in a play in the prison he falls for Thomas Manzoni, the son of one of the prison wardens. The two plan a life together once Martin has been released but they face objections from Thomas’s parents. When Thomas is sent to a reform school it seems unlikely that the lovers will ever be reunited.
Told in bleak black and white, the narrative of the film covers a period of six years and is therefore episodic in places. This would often be the downfall of a film, but here the structure works extremely well. Jürgen Prochnow gives a restrained and graceful performance as Martin Kurath, with Ernst Hannawald making his film debut in the showier role of Thomas, at which he excels and gives great depth. The film was directed by Wolfgang Peterson who moved to America in the 1990s to make Hollywood blockbusters such as Air Force One (1997), The Perfect Storm (2000) and Troy (2004). It is almost sad that Peterson did not continue directing brave, more personal films such as this.
Despite the fact that this book features reviews of a number of gay films made during the 1970s in Germany, this one stands out from the crowd in a number of ways. Unlike both Fox And His Friends and The Tenderness Of The Wolves, The Consequence features two gay characters, both of which are sympathetically portrayed. Even more surprising is that the two lovers in the film are of different generations, and yet Martin’s love of Thomas is not judged or over-dramatised in any way; it is simply shown to be very real and leaves the argument of whether it is right or wrong to the viewer (who, in turn, would have to be made of sterner stuff than I not to be moved by the story). Similarly, the physical abuse that the teenaged boys suffer at the reform school is not overplayed despite being disturbing to watch. The fact that much of this is off-screen shows just how much in control of his material Peterson was even at this early stage in his career.
The DVD of the film, issued by WaterBearer features a considerably better print than many of those made around the same time that have since been released on the label. However, someone decided that the existing subtitles were hard to read and therefore new ones have been pasted over the film (in bright orange with a white background!), often blocking out a third of the frame. Thankfully, these new subtitles are removable via the remote control (there is no menu option for this) and the original ones are more than acceptable and readable. The DVD release is a welcome one, for this is an unfairly neglected gay film and deserves to be much better known.
More recommended gay films from Germany
Regular Guys (1996)
Love In Thoughts (2004)