The Circle, is not a magazine but is also a gay community within itself. This is during the time when things in Zurich were a bit more lenient compared to anywhere else in the world. This is where Ernst and Robi meet. Ernst is a girls high school teacher while Robi is the main drag act performer for the club’s ball parties. We see how the two lovers meet and their story goes forward. Things are done in secrecy but it is still in control. Things change when a series of murders happen and suddenly the influential members high society are outed as gay who are killed by rent boys. This brings ‘The circle’ under scrutiny. Suddenly it is no longer okay to run the magazine and the cops take a very hard stand on the matters. One of their balls is raided and every member is asked to prepare a statement declaring their sexual identity. Things get hard for Ernst and Robi because Ernst wants to do something for the society , yet at the same time keep his job secure and be in closet. Rob on the other hand wants a normal loving monogamous life. But the two love each other too much and brave all odds. After 2 murder cases are solved, the third one takes a toll on the cops and the circle is shut permanently by the authorities. Zurich is suddenly now not as gay friendly as everyone thought it would be. The film later shows how the tow men later start a magazine and also then end up to become the first gay couple to legally get married in Switzerland.
This is a beautifully told true story of love amidst a backdrop of lies, secrecy and fundamentally fear. It shows the hope and intellect of gay men in the 40s. It is a truly engaging film, and one to watch if you’re interested in knowing about the history of our gay culture and how much we take for granted today. I think getting real life interviews of Ernst and Robi and their friends and family along with full dramatised portrayal of the events made it even more engaging. The film makes it very clear how much hurdles a same-sex couple that simply wanted to be together had to clear in the 1950s and how the pioneering ‘The Circle’, helped fill a void but how its relatively low profile became a problem when a series of rent-boy murders shook the city.
Great acting an direction makes this film/documentary very engaging at the same time providing us with some good context history about what it was like to be gay in Switzerland back then. (7/10)