In German cinemas from September 29: The new film Rosa von Praunheim is a loving tribute to a great entertainer.
Frankfurt – Was it him or wasn’t he? When asked whether pop singer Rex Gildo was homosexual or not, Rosa von Praunheim answered positively. In his new film “Rex Gildo – The Last Dance”, the Frankfurt director takes a detailed look at the life of the man who had his greatest success in 1972 with “Fiesta Mexicana” and was played in living rooms throughout the Republic.
With “The Last Dance”, an unclassic biopic will be shown in German cinemas from September 29, the spotlight not only being directed at the artist Rex Gildo, whose real name was Ludwig Franz Hirtreiter. Rosa von Praunheim lovingly lets her audience share in an individual fate, the tragedy of which is self-explanatory against the background of a bigoted and antiquated society. The director thus also goes back to a time in which the filmmaker encounters himself and his epochal film “Not the homosexual is perverse, but the situation in which he lives”. A film that is seen as the spark that sparked the gay movement and the liberation of homosexuals in Germany.
In the cinema: newcomer Kilian Berger as young Rex Gildo
However, Rex Gildo’s portrayal shows that this liberation of the gay movement had not yet arrived in the mills of the German pop music industry. Using historical footage, the film provides a glimpse into the career of the fictional character Rex Gildo, who was deliberately staged as a heartthrob. It is precisely these insights into the cheerful music productions of the post-war FRG that sometimes seem grotesquely funny, but are presented by Rosa von Praunheim as a loving retrospective. A benevolent distance that the film maintains over its entire length.
From Thursday (September 29) in German cinemas
On the other hand, cinema newcomer Kilian Berger mimics a young man in the feature film scenes who, in his youthful striving for fame and success, submits to the strict support of his manager Fred Miekley, played by Ben Becker, and finds his great love in him. Becker’s portrayal of the mentor and lover, with whom the pop singer lived in a secret relationship for 37 years, carries the first part of the film in a very special way. Kai Schuhmann portrays the aged Rex Gildo, visibly marked by alcohol and drug abuse, on his way to his last dance.
In the cinema: “Rex Gildo” – Extraordinary film about the life of a man
The feature film scenes are repeatedly interrupted by interviews with the pop singer’s companions. Among other things, Rosa von Praunheim speaks to Rex Gildo’s singing partner Gitte Hænning, with whom he had great chart success from 1963 to 1962, and to the actress Conny Froboess, alongside whom Gildo played his first leading role in the music film “Hula-Hopp, Conny” at the end of the 1950s . And companions Costa Cordalis openly state that the entertainer was gay.
It is precisely these conversations that make it tangible how much the pop singer must have suffered in secret from the gap between the public facade as a womanizer and a homosexual love relationship. Even private life was dominated by public expectations of the young man, who therefore married his cousin Marion Ohlsen in 1974. A family construct that collapsed with the death of Fred Miekley and the separation from Marion and meant that Gildo should never find personal support again and failed due to loneliness.
“Rex Gildo – The Last Dance” is an extraordinary film about the life of a man who was and is still appreciated throughout Germany for his art. Posthumously, Rosa von Praunheim gives the pop singer the public empathy and understanding that he was denied throughout his life. And as light as the film comes along and invites its audience to laugh, it is what the life of Rex Gildo was until his suicide: a tragedy. (Moritz Post)