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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 21, 2023



CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD is a British-American writer best known for “Goodbye to Berlin”, a 1939 book that was later adapted on stage in 1955 as a play, “I Am a Camera”, which was later made into a movie with Laurence Harvey as Chris and Julie Harris as Sally Bowles. 

The play later became the Broadway hit musical, “Cabaret” (1966), that also became a movie and won many Oscars including best actress for Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles in 1972. 

Isherwood died in 1986 at the age of 82. His other popular novel is “A Single Man” (1964), which was filmed in 2009 starring Colin Firth. 

In 1976, he wrote his memoir when he’s already based in L.A., “Christopher and His Kind”, and it was filmed by BBC in 2011 with Matt Smith (best known as Dr. Who and as the young Prince Charles in “The Crown”) in the title role.

The film is narrated by Chris himself. In 1929, he went to Berlin to join his friend W.H. Auden (Pip Carter), and his stay there became so memorable for him.

He met a German boy, Caspar (Alexander Doetch, later Dreymon), in a seedy cellar bar (it wasn’t called gay bar yet) called The Cosy Corner.

This is where he experienced being with his own tribe of homosexual men as Berlin then had a hedonistic night life of bars and brothels.  

He says in his narration: “To me, Berlin meant boys.”

It’s also about his friendship with Gerald Hamilton (Toby Jones), a balding gay who has a problematic wig. 

He met him on the train to Berlin and Gerald referred him to the boarding house where he stayed in Berlin, which was then seeing the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis into power.

He also met a beautiful cabaret singer, Jean Ross (Imogen Poots), an English expatriate working in Berlin.

She is hoping to be discovered as an actress, who became the peg for Sally Bowles, his most famous character for whom he also later wrote her own book in 1937. 

His affair with Caspar ended when he suddenly disappeared and it’s only much later that he’d meet him again and Caspar is already wearing a Nazi uniform.

To earn some money, Chris teaches English lessons and one of his students in Wilfrid Landauer (Iddo Goldberg), a rich Jew who owns a department store and is alarmed with the rise of Nazism in Berlin. 

Chris doesn’t want to take any political stand as he is an artist, but later on, he is horrified when he personally witnesses the Nazis vandalizing Wilfrid’s home and other Jewish businesses.

Chris then meets a handsome street cleaner, Heinz Neddermayer (Douglas Booth), and falls in love.

The boy reciprocates his affection and introduces him to his mother, Frau Neddermayer (Gertrude Thoma), and brother, Gerhardt (Tom Wlaschiha), a Nazi sympathizer who is against his brother’s homosexual liaison with Chris. 

If you’ve seen “Cabaret”, you’d quickly notice that some of the events and characters portrayed there are also here, but this film has more to offer in the vivid anecdotes and colorful situations recalled by Chris. 

One of the most notable is his relationship with Heinz. With the Nazis coming into power, he decides to leave Berlin with Heinz, but his request to get Heinz residency in England is turned down. 

Several years later, we learn that Heinz was eventually arrested in Germany and forced to serve the Nazis. 

One of the heartwarming elements of the film is the reunion of Chris with his friends. 

He meets Jean by chance in a cafe in England and she shows him her copy of the book he has written about her.

Also a touching reunion is that of Chris with his former landlady Fraulein Thurau (Izzy Van Randwyck).

But the most moving is when he returned to Berlin after the war, in 1952 when Berlin was divided into West and East Berlin. 

He is reunited with Heinz who is now married and has a son who he calls Chris. 

But when “Christopher and His Kind” was published in 1976, Heinz was shocked by Chris’ candid account of their affair and never got in touch with him again.

Scripted by Kevin Elyot and directed Geoffrey Sax, the movie succeeds in making a masterful evocation of the time period it portrays and the colorful characters that inhabited Chris’ world. 

It’s real life drama that is well done, handsomely shot and mounted, and with touching performances by a competent ensemble cast, led by Matt Smith in a rakish performance as Chris who he manages to make clever and funny.