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Sex in Chains (Gay-Themed Films of the German Silent Era) (2004)

William Dieterle , Gunnar Tolnæs , William Dieterle  |  NR |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Dieterle, Gunnar Tolnæs, Mary Johnson, Paul Henckels, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
  • Directors: William Dieterle
  • Writers: Franz Höllering, Georg C. Klaren, Herbert Juttke
  • Producers: Leo Meyer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006GAOO0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,630 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sex in Chains (Gay-Themed Films of the German Silent Era)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Brimming with visual invention and breathless erotic angst, Sex in Chains uniquely combines gorgeous cinematic craftsmanship with bold subject matter. Made at the peak of the German silent era, Sex in Chains defines the Weimar era artistic freedom that would shortly fall prey to the Nazis. An astonishing mixture of love story, socially conscious expose and lurid melodrama, Sex in Chains assuredly balances tender romance with candid erotica and uninhibited imagination with crisp realism. It's maybe the best silent film of its director and star Wilhelm Dieterle. he later became successful in Hollywood as William Dieterle, directing classics like The Life of Emile Zola and A Portrait of Jennie. When Sommer (William Dieterle) accidentally kills a nightclub patron caught harassing his wife Helene (Mary Johnson), he's sentenced to three years in prison. Inside prison, Sommer grapples with the realities of men separated from women but not from temptation, while outside Mary longs for her husband's reassuring caress. Denied the physical comfort promised in their marriage vows, the young newlyweds are driven to risk their future and find release where they can - Sommer in the arms of a handsome fellow prisoner and Helene with the boss whose kindness becomes her only solace. Remarkably at ease with his taboo subject matter, director Dieterle depicts the hothouse passions of Sex in Chains with ravishing black and white photography. Actor Dieterle gives a restrained, honest performance as a traditionally-minded young husband forced to test his marriage and his very sexuality. Though censored after its 1928 release, Sex in Chains has been restored to its original state-of-the-silent-film-art brilliance by the Filmmuseum Muenchen and is presented here for the first time on DVD.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Be Misled By The Title! December 13, 2004
If you're looking for something really lurid as the title suggests than you are going to be very disappointed. And it's a silent film to boot. On the other hand don't shy away from this film because of the title which is a literal translation from the German. A better title would be "Sex Imprisoned" for this movie is about what happens to a young couple when they are denied each other because the husband is sent to prison for accidentally killing a man who was harassing her. It is thoughtful, tastefully done, and deeply moving as it explores a variety of themes including a brutal and unfair penal system. In that regard it's a precursor to many Warner Brothers expose' movies of the 1930's such as 20,000 YEARS IN SING SING or THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL only more adult in its approach and subject matter.

The film was directed by William Dieterle who would shortly leave for Hollywood where he would make a number of memorable films including Charles Laughton's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, and THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER. He also plays the lead role of the husband and shows that he was just as capable as an actor and could easily have made his living that way. The rest of the cast is fine with Mary Johnson a standout as the wife. The print used is in pretty good shape considering it's status as a banned film with the original German titlecards used and subtitled.

The piano score that accompanies the movie is appropriate but an orchestral score would have been nice considering the intensity of the material and its powerful uncomprimising ending. This is part of a new 3 film series GAY-THEMED FILMS OF THE GERMAN SILENT ERA from Kino International. It is my personal favorite of the three and is a remarkable film by any standards. If you enjoy thought provoking dramas and/or tragic romances then SEX IN CHAINS has a lot to offer. And don't be misled by the title!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a gay-themed silent film! December 24, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Although this excellent film is billed as one of the 'gay-themed films of the German Silent Era', I actually got quite a lot more out of it, namely the issue of prisoners' emotional welfare and the effects of incarceration on both prisoners and their partners. The second part of the original German title reads: "the sexual plight of prisoners" ("Die Sexualnot der Gefangenen") and it is based on research and writing done on the subject under the heading "Eroticism in prison". The storyline emphasizes the point several times throughout that prison should not be mere punishment but rather a rehabilitation so that the released prisoner can continue leading a normal life. In fact, the lead character in this film is an advocate of prison reform, focussing on the emotional/sexual needs of prisoners. This alone made the content and message of the film very interesting and important to me, but the lonely wife of the prisoner is not forgotten: she has the same problems and also succumbs, leading both of them to emotional ruin. Emotions run high and are captured very expressively with the camera, which I also found a highlight of this film. The story and the way it is presented cinematically (with barely a hint at anything sexual) draws the viewer into the emotional viewpoints of the various characters involved, and also gets you thinking about the plight of prisoners, then and now. An excellent film with an important theme well worth viewing.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NEITHER "GAY-THEMED" NOR GAY-FRIENDLY November 2, 2012
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This well-intentioned film makes a serious attempt (truly astonishing for its era) to dramatize the plight of prison inmates who are denied (over long periods of time)the opportunity of occasionally indulging their natural sexual cravings. This denial of what we now call "conjugal visits" (the film argues) can lead to near-madness, suicide and (incidentally) to homosexual activity. But it's absurd to call this a Gay-Themed Film. There is only one brief episode of male-to-male contact in the film and it is discreetly suggested and lasts only a few seconds; yet this one moment of weakness becomes a source of overwhelming guilt and shame for the main character. So this film is not about homosexuality. It is about a straight man in prison in desperate need of a human touch. [In fact, of the three KINO "Gay-Themed" films, only DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS really deals directly with homosexuality as a social and political issue.]
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5 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sex in Chains September 26, 2005
I purchased this DVD based on the information provided. Though it was entertaining, it was nothing like what the title or the description described.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I hate it because it is non arrived!!!!!!!!!!!! December 19, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Commande soi-disant "shipped" fin octobre 2009 et toujours pas arrivée ce 20 décembre 2009..... Comment faire pour se plaindre auprès d'Amazon?
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