Mädchen in Uniform (1931)
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This film is brilliant. Great ending too, which seems to be the toughest aspect for films of this era.
Ahead of its time in several ways, 1931's Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform) has a a female director, is based on a play written by a woman, and an all-female cast. And it is widely considered the first overt portrayal of a gay (lesbian) relationship in film, though what's remained controversial it's between a teacher and a 14-year-old girl (it doesn't go too, and focuses more on her "sinful" infatuation with the older woman, which is complicated by her search for a mother figure). But perhaps most prescient is its use of a boarding school to discuss and expose the practices of a fascist state. There are many rules and repressions in the film's school - heck, I went to a normal high school in the late 80s and still felt it was a fascist system - that prefigures the Nazi regime that would rise to power a couple years later (and send many of the people associated with this film on the run to other countries). If it still works today, it's that it makes you care about its characters, and not just the clearly endearing (and troubled) Manuela. It also has something to say about education, teacher-student relationships, and discipline, as much as any of the great class room dramas.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #14 in BFI Flare's The Best LGBTQ+ Films of All Time
This movie ranks #45 in Kinemathekverbund's The 100 Most Important German Films
This movie ranks #114 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000