Film Review: Great Freedom

Hans and Viktor form an unlikely bond

Franz Rogowski is fast-becoming one of the best actors working in European cinema today. His breakthrough came in Sebastian Schipper’s Victoria back in 2015. He’s gone on to star in Transit and Undine (Christian Petzold), A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick), the Golden Bear nominated I Was at Home, But… (Angela Schanelec) and Freaks Out (Gabriele Mainetti). He delivers his best performance yet in Great Freedom.

After Hans (Rogowski) is liberated from a concentration camp, he doesn’t experience freedom for very long. He’s arrested and imprisoned again under Paragraph 175 of the German criminal code after being found guilty of having homosexual relations with men. He’s placed in a cell with Viktor (Georg Friedrich), a convicted murderer. Over the years, as Hans is re-arrested on several occasions, the pair build up an unlikely bond.

Great Freedom is a powerful story which highlight the damage caused by Paragraph 175 on generations of gay men. Indeed, while the Nazis strengthened the penalties and many thousands died in concentration camps, the law was not repealed until 1994. Rogowski is at the heart of everything good about Sebastian Meise’s film and the last scene is one of the most inspired directorial choices you’ll see all year. Great Freedom is a rich, potent and emotive drama.

Great Freedom is out in UK and Irish cinemas on 11 March.

Previous Live review: This is the Kit, Falmouth, March 4th - West Country meets West Coast and proves a very fine blend
Next Live Review: Big Thief - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London 02.03.2022

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