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Review: Un amour à silence – A Love to Hide (2005)

Directed by: Christian Faure | 102 minutes | drama, , | Actors: , , Bruno Todeschini, , , Nicolas Gob, Olivier Saladin, Philippe Faure, François Aramburu, Miroslav Kosev, , , Kitodar Todorov, , , , Vladimir Nikolov, Valentin Tanev, Anguel Gueorguiev, Kristiyan Fokov, Ivan Panev, Irinei Konstantinov, Françoise de Stael, , , Julian Vergov, ,

Dozens if not hundreds of films have been made about the fate of the Jews during the Second World War. All equally impressive and heartbreaking. The drama that many gypsy families went through between 1939 and 1945 is also known to many. But another group of Nazi victims has been grossly overlooked all these years; the homosexuals. The deportation of German gays started as early as 1933, when Hitler came to power, and then spread to the occupied and annexed territories. According to the US Holocaust Memorial, a total of about 100,000 homosexuals were arrested between 1933 and 1945, of whom 10,000 to 15,000 died in camps. Many of them were also used as guinea pigs in gruesome experiments. Filmmaker Christian Faure thought it was high time to expose this drama and made the TV ‘Un amour à taire’ in 2005. It was then only four years ago that the deportation of homosexuals during World War II had been officially recognized by the French state …

The story begins in Paris in 1942, where the Jewish Sara Morgenstein (Louise Monot) knocks on her childhood friend Jean Lavandier (Jérémie Renier) in the hope that he can help her. Her was murdered by the Nazis after being betrayed by someone they trusted. Jean, the eldest son and alleged successor of a Parisian laundry operator with dubious sympathies (Michel Jonasz), takes her to a hiding place, the home of Phillippe Ledoux (Bruno Todeschini). Sara is still in love with Jean, but he has had a secret relationship with Philippe Ledoux (Bruno Todeschini) for several years. When Sara discovers Jean and Philippe’s relationship, it is initially a shock,

Everything seems to be going on until Jean’s younger brother Jacques (Nicolas Gob), the black sheep of the family, is released from prison. He is upset because Lavandier has appointed Jean as his successor. He also has a crush on Sara and to impress her with expensive items he cooperates with the enemy. He points a collaborationist antiques dealer to houses of wealthy Jewish customers of the laundry that have not been seen for months. When he discovers that his brother is gay, it has an almost devastating effect on Jacques. When at the same time his approaches to Sara come to nothing because of her imperturbable adoration for Jean, he becomes jealous. He plans an opportunity to teach his brother a lesson. With the help of one of his shady contacts in the police force – which is full of collaborators – he wants to have Jean arrested for one night for resistance activities. However, he soon regrets his betrayal when it turns out that his brother is no longer released and is sent to the concentration camp in Dachau. He tries to reverse his act, but it is already too late for that… Faure made the film as a tribute to thousands of French people who lost their lives during the Second World War because of their sexual orientation. It took a lot of work to film the story, which is largely based on Pierre Seel’s 1994 autobiography, which paints a realistic picture of the persecution of European gays during the Nazi regime. In France, where the criminal laws against gays were enforced until 1981 (!), apparently no one was waiting for this film. It took a lot of effort to complete the realization of the film financially. To save costs, ‘Un amour à taire’ – released internationally under the title ‘A Love to Hide’ – was recorded in its entirety in Bulgaria and Bulgarian actors were hired for the roles of the Nazis. Because Faure managed to avoid typical Parisian cityscapes and used his settings in an inventive way, it never dawns on the viewer that the film was not shot in France. With limited resources, he also reconstructs the other sets, including the train platforms where the Jews’ transports depart and arrive. It took a lot of effort to complete the realization of the film financially. To save costs, ‘Un amour à taire’ – released internationally under the title ‘A Love to Hide’ – was recorded in its entirety in Bulgaria and Bulgarian actors were hired for the roles of the Nazis. Because Faure managed to avoid typical Parisian cityscapes and used his settings in an inventive way, it never dawns on the viewer that the film was not shot in France. With limited resources, he also reconstructs the other sets, including the train platforms where the Jews’ transports depart and arrive. It took a lot of effort to complete the realization of the film financially. To save costs, ‘Un amour à taire’ – released internationally under the title ‘A Love to Hide’ – was recorded in its entirety in Bulgaria and Bulgarian actors were hired for the roles of the Nazis. Because Faure managed to avoid typical Parisian cityscapes and used his settings in an inventive way, it never dawns on the viewer that the film was not shot in France. With limited resources, he also reconstructs the other sets, including the train platforms where the Jews’ transports depart and arrive. To save costs, ‘Un amour à taire’ – released internationally under the title ‘A Love to Hide’ – was recorded in its entirety in Bulgaria and Bulgarian actors were hired for the roles of the Nazis. Because Faure managed to avoid typical Parisian cityscapes and used his settings in an inventive way, it never dawns on the viewer that the film was not shot in France. With limited resources, he also reconstructs the other sets, including the train platforms where the Jews’ transports depart and arrive. To save costs, ‘Un amour à taire’ – released internationally under the title ‘A Love to Hide’ – was recorded in its entirety in Bulgaria and Bulgarian actors were hired for the roles of the Nazis. Because Faure managed to avoid typical Parisian cityscapes and used his settings in an inventive way, it never dawns on the viewer that the film was not shot in France. With limited resources, he also reconstructs the other sets, including the train platforms where the Jews’ transports depart and arrive.

Thanks to his convincing protagonists, of which the young Belgians Jérémie Renier (‘L’Enfant’, 2005) and Nicolas Gob (‘Un fils sans histoire’, 2004) not only play the most interesting roles but also make the deepest impression, Faure to tell a poignant and poignant story about eternal fidelity, endless friendship, incomprehensible betrayal and oppressive human suffering. He allows enough time for human warmth, never losing sight of which story he is trying to tell. In addition, hard confrontations are also not avoided. The scene in a German prison camp, in which Jean has to watch another young gay man with whom he has just befriended, is horribly battered, will leave no one unmoved. But where in other war movies,

‘Un amour à taire’ should have been made many years earlier. The fate faced by thousands of homosexuals in World War II should have been exposed much earlier. Only ten percent of all gays sent to German camps survived. Those are shocking figures that have been brushed aside for years. Fortunately, there is now this beautiful film by Christian Faure, full of complex characters and penetrating scenes, that finally dares to tell the truth about what really happened to this forgotten group of victims. An extremely poignant film that definitely deserves a larger audience.

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