‘The Circle’ is an interesting documentary portraying the gay romance of a young teacher, Ernst Ostertag, and a transvestite star, Robi Rapp, in 1958 Zurich. The story is told through a combination of a theatrical reenactment of the events, a mix of historical footage, and interviews with the much older Ernst and Robi.
This Swiss documentary is particularly interesting because it tells a story from early in the gay rights movement with a perspective that is not often seen. Ernst, torn between his rich lifestyle and the commitment to himself and his homosexuality, joins DER KREIS (The Circle), an early European pro-gay organization tied to an influential magazine of the same name. His time in this organization, which the documentary chronicles, hits on both the highest point and eventual decline of DER KREIS. Today DER KREIS is seen by many historians as being incredibly influential in informing and normalizing the gay rights movement.
Beyond offering this interesting viewpoint of gay history, ‘The Circle’ features both good acting and a good story. Despite the importance legacy of DER KREIS the film is first and foremost about Ernst and Robi’s love story. The reenactments are endearing and the story is charming.
‘The Circle’ offers a unique view at the gay rights movement in Europe during the 1950’s as well as a touching love story.