26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low fidelity account of Isherwood's memoirs
There is one aspect of Christopher And His Kind which none of the Amazon customer reviews has touched on, namely its relationship to the book of memoirs on which it's supposedly based. I first read the book some thirty years ago having purchased the paperback after reading some enthusiastic reviews, although my only experience of Isherwood until then was having viewed the...
Published on 2 April 2011 by Guy Mannering
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars warning this film has been cut
How disappointing , this is not the full film which was shown on bbc2 this year . I guess so it could get a 15 certificate . The sexy controversial bits at the begining have been cut out so it makes it all rather tame and more Brideshead than it actually was . What a let down . Still i suppose if you havent seen it before then it can be a light entertainment .
Published on 28 Aug 2011 by cartoon
Most Helpful First | Newest First
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars warning this film has been cut,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)How disappointing , this is not the full film which was shown on bbc2 this year . I guess so it could get a 15 certificate . The sexy controversial bits at the begining have been cut out so it makes it all rather tame and more Brideshead than it actually was . What a let down . Still i suppose if you havent seen it before then it can be a light entertainment .
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Low fidelity account of Isherwood's memoirs,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)There is one aspect of Christopher And His Kind which none of the Amazon customer reviews has touched on, namely its relationship to the book of memoirs on which it's supposedly based. I first read the book some thirty years ago having purchased the paperback after reading some enthusiastic reviews, although my only experience of Isherwood until then was having viewed the movie versions of I Am A Camera and Cabaret. I'd forgotten just about everything in the book but after watching this BBC production, and having on the whole enjoyed it, I decided to dust down my yellowed paperback and read it once again. This TV production covers roughly the first half of the book, the Berlin years, and the first thing to strike me was the amount of compression that is perhaps inevitable when you're constrained by a 90 minute time slot. I couldn't help feeling that the Berlin years and some of the events immediately thereafter would easily have filled three one hour episodes with no loss of interest. The second thing to strike me was that this production was not particularly truthful to the events described in the book, the script writer embroidering Isherwood's reminiscences with the author's fictionalised version of events and characters from his Berlin novels. Jean Ross, for example, the inspiration for the exhuberant Sally Bowles, is quite a minor character in the book and there is no indication that she was a cabaret singer or anything resembling Liza Minnelli, rather she comes across as a sort of leftist free spirit. Sally Bowles is essentially a literary and cinematic creation and it's Sally Bowles rather than Jean Ross that you get in this BBC production. There are frequent tweaking of characters and events. Heinz, serious boyfriend number three, is first spotted by Isherwood sweeping the streets although this is not mentioned in the book. And Heinz is described in the book as having no close family but is portrayed in this film as living with a tubercular mother and a pro-Nazi brother. It was in fact boyfriend number two, Otto, who had the tubercular mum but neither Otto nor serious boyfriend number one, Bubi, appear in the film, being replaced by an invented boyfriend called Caspar. Isherwood later bumps into Caspar dressed as a Brownshirt ejecting customers from a Jewish-owned department store although in the book Isherwood merely says that it was one of the former rentboys from the gay bars. In the book, Isherwood doesn't meet Gerald Hamilton for the first time on a train, an event clearly borrowed from the novel Mr Norris Changes Trains in which Isherwood transformed Hamilton into Arthur Norris and there is no indication in the book that Hamilton was into sado-masochism. There are many other omissions, deviations and borrowings. The film, in truth, is a rather sly mix of fact and Isherwood's fiction loosely based on fact, but I realise that entertainment values are always a prime consideration in TV productions of this kind and a Jean Ross who resembles the fictional and cinematic Sally Bowles is probably what audiences want to see, and an ex-boyfriend who morphs into a Brownshirt and a Gerald Hamilton who enjoys a good flogging from a rentboy are more likely to keep your interest from flagging.
On the debit side, the film's evocation of early 1930s Berlin is not particularly convincing. I understand that many scenes were shot in Ireland, perhaps a tight budget precluded shooting in eastern European locations. And when Isherwood visits his old Berlin haunts twenty years later no one seems to have aged much (just sticking a moustache on Heinz to transform him from 17 to 37 won't do.) Matt Smith does a passable job as the young Isherwood and the supporting cast is top notch. I particularly liked Lindsay Duncan as Isherwood's snobby mum, clearly aware that she is a stultifying influence on her sons but blithely ploughing on regardless (in the book she's depicted rather more sympathetically); and Toby Jones is wonderfully seedy as the rather shifty Gerald Hamilton, although in the book Hamilton comes across as a far more complex character, a wheeler-dealer with a fascinating history who manages to diddle Isherwood out of the then enormous sum of £1000.
Despite the film's dodgy adherence to the events related in Isherwood's book I felt it was quite successful in preserving the spirit of his Berlin years and I enjoyed it as a piece of entertainment. I only regret that the filmmakers weren't more ambitious with this project and that the producton values weren't a tad higher.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Englishman Abroad,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Just Wonderful! Matt Smith is delightful as Isherwood and Imogen Poots has all the zest of a dizzy independent woman in the 30's. The cast are all so suitable and the story has the same feeling as does the reading of an Isherwwood novel. Standing back from life but honest in the extreme. It is the personality of a rich kid with a strange family, indulging in his sexuality while being aware of the curse of society of that period and also today. Politics, guts and sex. How do we meander through conviction and selfishness; through commitment and avoidance. Mostly I find Matt Smith a talent I enjoy watching in the 4 roles I have so far seen.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Footnote to Cabaret,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Christopher Isherwood apparently knew what he was doing when he destroyed his Berlin diaries and published his Berlin Stories instead. They later on turned into the play I Am a Camera and, ultimately, Cabaret. He returned to his real adventures in the 1970s but the book seems addressed rather to those who can't get enough of his fiction and are begging for more than the general public. Which does not mean it is a bad book, quite on the contrary, Isherwood was far too good a writer to do any such thing as to publish a bad book.
Christopher and His Kind is nothing more than a footnote to Cabaret addressed to those who want more of the same thing. Unfortunately, they are bound to be disappointed. This is a typical biopic in which Ireland pretends to be Berlin in the early 1930s, acting is so so, and the plot rather disappointing and bland. The movie chooses the early part of Isherwood's memoir and one can hardly wonder why - the costs. Isherwood's attempts at saving his Heinz took him to the Netherlands, Sweden and Portugal. It would probably be quite difficult to get it all in Ireland at a reasonable price so all we get is Berlin, mostly interiors. When Auden informs Isherwood that he decided to show him a gay club instead of the Brandenburg Gate, you get a fair warning, you won't see the Gate in this movie. You won't see too much of gay life either. As a result there is little drama here and not much of a plot - when the things get real rough we don't get to see them only to be informed of what happened in a rather short scene.
The movie can be quite touching at times but it fails to convince in the longer run. We can neither learn of the drama of Isherwood's life (just a glimps of his life-long conflict with his widowed mother) nor why he actually became a famous writer (not due to sleeping with Berlin boys which is presented in a rather unconvincing manner). In short - if you're interested in Isherwood, get the book and read it, you won't regret it. As for the movie - don't rush buying it. It can wait for a rerun.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Matt Smith beyond the TARDIS........,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)In a space of just two years Matt Smith has gone from an upcoming (but still largely unknown) young actor to one of Britain's hottest commodities, thanks in no small part to a certain time travelling hero watched by millions of viewers per week. Now he's been given an opportunity to stretch his acting muscles by taking on a very different role and it's well worth the payoff.
Based on the exploits of real life author Christopher Isherwood, "Christopher And His Kind" looks at the bohemian adventures he undertook during his stay in 1930's Nazi Germany. As a young gay man, Isherwood took full advantage of Berlin's underground nightlife and culture and along the way met a number of people who would become the inspiration for many of his future novels.
This TV movie benefits from a solid script adapted by Kevin Elyot, strong direction from Geoffrey Sax and first rate performances from a talented ensemble of actors. Matt Smith heads the cast and shows what a impressive range he has as an actor. He paints Isherwood as a man longing to find himself and desperate to get away from the confines of a restrictive home life in England. He's not perfect by any means, but he's young and looking for love, fun and adventure. Toby Jones provides an air of oily charm to the role of Gerald Hamilton whom Isherwood befriends on his fateful trip to Germany (who was the basis for Isherwood's novel "Mr Norris Changes Trains").
Lindsay Duncan is a marvel as Isherwood's icy, critical yet clinging mother Kathleen - a woman who is hard to please and yet can't bear to her son go and be his own man. A true product of a repressive upper class English background, something Isherwood himself fought against. Douglas Booth gives a great air of sympathy to his role as Isherwood's German lover Heinz Neddermayer. In many ways, he is the stories biggest loser as he doesn't quite get the happy ending you hope he does. However Imogen Poots is perhaps the standout performer in the supporting cast as the larger than life Jean Ross (whose is the basis for Liza Minnelli's Oscar winning turn in "Cabaret"). Confident, bold yet vulnerable and fragile, she and Smith have great chemistry together onscreen and their scenes really shine.
The story moves swiftly as Europe braces itself for WWII and the rising racial tension in Germany which Isherwood witnesses first hand and is understandably shocked and appalled at. This all provides the backdrop for the characters and the circumstances they find themselves in. Touching, smart, at times both hilarious and sad, "Christopher And His Kind" proves that the BBC still has what it takes to make intelligent, entertaining drama that's worth watching.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Isherwood, boys and all,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Christopher Isherwood goes to Berlin in 1931. Not for the culture or the history, he says, but for the boys. He meets plenty of boys, watches the rise of the Nazis, encounters a number of people he will later write about (to their dismay) and eventually returns to Britain. The movie is interesting enough but never too involving. Isherwood was an observer all his life, and that distance-keeping reserve shows in the movie. Still, he knew his own skin and was happy in it. He was a fine writer. And to my way of thinking, a more inviting person than his pal, the gloomy Auden. Matt Smith, who plays Isherwood, does a good job but you must ignore his perfect resemblance to Dr. Who.
5.0 out of 5 stars Christopher and his Kind review,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)This film inspired me to buy and read the book! An interesting, moving, and good look into the life of a gay man in Germany at the cusp of ww2. Matt Smith did a very good job in this film!
5.0 out of 5 stars Bad DVD,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Enjoyed very much when eventually finished watching. Originally purchased over a year ago but DVD failed half way through, because it was over a year I just purchased again!!
This is not the first time this has happened, I purchase for future viewing and do not check initially.
Should I complain?
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Fantastic price! and seamless service, arrived quickly and was very well packaged, very happy, highly recommended, many thanks to you!
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film,
This review is from: Christopher And His Kind [DVD] (DVD)Wonderful biopic of Christopher Isherwood's time in 1930's Berlin. Matt Smith is great in the role and looks especially fetching in his Square trunks.- Great film
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Christopher And His Kind [DVD] by Matt Smith (DVD - 2011)