German actor, film director, author and contemporary of Fassbinder, Frank Ripploh is best remembered for his semi-autobiographical 1981 movie Taxi zum Klo (Taxi to the Toilet), a relationship drama between a gay teacher called Frank (Ripploh) and his jealous lover Bernd (Bernd Broaderup). Frank spends his nights looking for casual pickups in public lavatories while marking the homework of his young students. Bernd on the other hand wants to settle down with Frank in a monogamous relationship; something he’s not prepared to countenance, enjoying his free and easy gay life stile in pre-aids Berlin.
Described as ‘not a pornographic film just one involving a love story about sex’. It was banned for public release by the BBFC for a total of 25 years because Ripploh would not agree to cut scenes involving fellatio, anal sex and a golden shower. At that time it could only be seen in privately licenced clubs and cinemas, although it was shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1981 where it received threats from the local authorities that it would be impounded and the only subtitled copy in existence would be burnt, thankfully this never happened. In 1995 a heavily cut version was released for public consumption. Film4 resubmitted the film to the BBFC in 2005; it was reassessed and in its restored and uncut form was broadcast for the first time on Film4’s TV channel under the Extreme Cinema strand, introduced by film critic Mark Kermode.
|Frank and Bernd party.|
The strength of this film is its honest approach to the gay lifestyle. It’s raw, explicit and sometimes shocking but Ripploh documentorial approach gives a realistic and ordinary view of gay life at that time. Seen as a revolutionary film in the development of gay cinema in America, it bucked Hollywood’s saccharine view of gays and their lifestyle but one can’t help but wonder if this film would be made today? Admittedly not to every one’s taste, but in my opinion well worth a look. Available at Love Film.