Great Freedom: Powerful LGBTQ drama explores gay love and persecution in post-war Germany

Sebastian Meise's searing period drama delicately reveals how love can flourish in the face of brutal oppression.


Words: Will Stroude; Images: MUBI

In partnership with MUBI

From director Sebastian Meise comes Great Freedom, a tender and heartrending new film that explores the persecution of gay and bisexual men in post-war Germany through the complex relationship between two prison inmates.

The Austrian drama - which hits UK cinemas on March 11 and streams exclusively on MUBI from May 6 - stars Franz Rogowski (Undine, Transit, Victoria) as Hans Hoffman, a German gay man who is liberated from a Nazi concentration camp only to find himself straight to prison to serve out the rest of his sentence.

Franz Rogowski as Hans Hoffman in Great Freedom (Image: MUBI)

There, Hans forms an unlikely connection with his cellmate Viktor, a convicted murderer (Georg Friedrich) whose initial hostility towards his fellow inmate slowly morphs into something more.

Set over three decades, Great Freedom charts the complex and challenging relationship between Hans and Viktor as Hans finds himself repeatedly jailed under Germany's Paragraph 175 criminalising same-sex sexual activity.

Anchored by compelling performances from Rogoski and Friedrich, Great Freedom is a searing exploration of the power of the human spirit in the face of structural injustice, offering a forceful but empathic look at love and human connection in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Franz Rogowski (left) as Hans and Georg Friedrich as Viktor in Great Freedom (Image: MUBI)

Great Freedom won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize Award at the Cannes Film Festival last year and was shortlisted for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.

In a five-star review in the Attitude March/April issue, out now, Guy Lodge writes: "Meise has made one of the great, complex films about relations between gay men and their oppressors, which is all the more powerful for emerging as its own kind of love story."

Great Freedom is released in UK cinemas on March 11 and streams exclusively on MUBI from May 6. Book tickets at mubi.com/greatfreedom.