Sebastian Meise’s incredibly powerful drama Great Freedom (or Große Freiheit) should be considered essential viewing this Pride Month. Based on the hundreds of thousands of men imprisoned under Paragraph 175 (which criminalised homosexuality) of the German penal code, Great Freedom is both a tender drama and a harrowing reminder of the countless injustices and battles faced by the LGBTQ+ community throughout history.
The non-linear fictionalisation of these many men’s stories follows Hans (Franz Rogowski) and his relationship with cellmate Viktor (Georg Friedrich) from ‘45 to ‘69. The quiet and understated drama unfolds slowly and with great tenderness and care, foregoing big, showy moments for impeccably crafted character study and a poignant portrayal of a truly dark time in queer history. Delicate and thoughtful, this is a film bursting with humanity that forces us to reflect on the period it covers while also filling us with hope for the power of love, and refusal to be broken by a system that tries to stop you being yourself.
Low-key but just as powerful as the grandest drama, Great Freedom is a poignant and tender study of love and the human spirit.
GREAT FREEDOM is available on Digital, DVD, and Blu-ray from MUBI