CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND (BBC) Review

Christopher and His Kind

CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND – Skimming over twenty-three years in the life of writer Christopher Isherwood, this single episode drama manages to both amuse and horrify as it shows the effect Berlin had on Isherwood – and that Isherwood had on the people of Berlin.

Christopher and His Kind was written by a playwright – and it shows. So much is done with so little. Very little brutality is actually needed to highlight the horrors the people of Berlin find themselves facing. There were two particularly powerful scenes for me. The first was Isherwood walking into the ‘Cosy Corner’ bar in Berlin and looking like he’d found exactly what he was searching for. The second was Isherwood, much later, walking out into the streets of Berlin, seeing Nazi decoration lining the streets, and looking like he’d lost Berlin forever.

Loss is the common thread running through Christopher and his Kind. Whether it occurs during the lighter first half or the gloomier second half, loss happens quickly and sharply; Caspar disappears, Jean and Gerald leave Berlin. Isherwood always finds these people again, sometimes inadvertantly, but even those second partings are tinged with a sense of abandonment.

It’s all incredibly sad to watch and yet still completely engrossing. I wasn’t keen on Jean’s singing and I think it would have been interesting to see some of Isherwood and Heinz’s travels, but it all somehow works as a whole anyway. The cast were fantastic, and thought the sets and locations often looked a little sparse, they worked with the script to bring a play-like air to the film, casting Berlin as the quite literal stage for the events that unfold.

In summary, a great movie. Hopefully the BBC will deliver similar fare to us again soon.

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