Tim Purtell
December 20, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

EW reviews three silent films

Two men tentatively touch, their faces trembling with ardor and tenderness. A clinch from Alexander? Try Different From the Others, the earliest of three pre-sound films from Kino that offer a remarkably sympathetic view of gay and bisexual life. Richard Oswald’s forward-thinking drama, about a concert pianist’s affair with a student, is an impassioned, if stilted, attack on Germany’s (since banished) penal code that made homosexuality a crime. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s elegiac Michael exquisitely records a love triangle between a middle-aged artist, his male protégé, and an alluring princess. And in the much-tamer-than-it-sounds Sex in Chains, an imprisoned, lonely married man gets it on (off screen) with a cellmate. Amazingly, considering cinema’s overall record on the subject, there’s not a simpering pansy in sight. But such enlightenment was rare and short-lived: Different was banned soon after its release and later torched by the Nazis.

EXTRAS Commentary on Michael.

Different: B
Michael: B+
Sex: B

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