Because "You Are Not Alone" is a foreign language film, the readers should anticipate spoilers in the review. An attempt is made to seduce you into seeing the film and not have to worry about the subtitles. When "You Are Not Alone" was released, it caused a sensation. Some considered the youthful exploration and sexual awakening between a 12 year old and 15 year old boy to be a turning point in world cinema. The film is a rather simple coming out or youthful, self-discovery film. However, it came from Denmark in 1978 and since the late 1960's, anything from Scandinavian countries immediately conjured visions of wild sexuality in the puritanical U.S. "You Are Not Alone" is handled with unusual taste and discretion. European gay sensibilities astound me. The Netherlands and most Scandinavian countries look at sex as openly as gunplay is looked upon in the U.S. Being gay may be difficult there, but parent and employer alike accept it without the drama associated in much of the U.S.
Bo (Anders Agensų) has had a difficult time adjusting in public school. Perhaps he has advanced sexually too quick among other students. He seems large for a 15 year old. We get an idea about Bo while on a beach vacation. He has been talking about school with a friend who is lying on the beach. He reaches out to touch his friend's back - and stops. What did he think would happen? Could he be revealing what his true feelings are? Bo is not a troublemaker, but he ends up having to go to a "continuation school." This is a school not for the college bound.
The headmaster is a stereotypical stern taskmaster. You can tell he is an old school Calvinist. He does have an attractive 12 year old, blonde haired son named Kim (Peter Bjerg). When he meets the older Bo, there is noticeable chemistry. The two become "special" friends. During free time, Kim sneaks off with Bo to spend time in the woods. You get the impression that Kim is instigating their contact. Bo isn't unhappy to have Kim's attention. They watch birds and play in a secret hut Bo has built. The two boys form a bond that slowly grows into a sexual relationship. At night Kim will sneak out of his bedroom, climb out of his window, and slides into Bo's bed! He is very lucky to never be discovered. Their relationship isn't the only male-on-male action we see in the film. Kim is given an assignment and catches two boys in a shower kissing and playing around in a sexual manner.
The school seems progressive. Ironically, they sing hymns in the morning, but have discussions of drugs, and politics in the classroom. The headmaster wants to obtain a grant for a new building and is under public scrutiny. During one visit a group finds pornography plastered all over a student's room. The headmaster is embarrassed and lays down the law in front of the entire school. There will be no pornography displayed in any room. Just before graduation, there is another inspection and another display of nude women is found. The headmaster assembles all the students to find the culprit. One guy, Ole (Ole Meyer) steps forward and assumes all the blame. The headmaster immediately moves to expel the boy. This is one week before the end of the term. Several faculty members and most of the students see the punishment as unnecessarily harsh. Half the students protest and stage a walk out. They refuse to return to class unless Ole is allowed to graduate. The headmaster doesn't want to appear weak, but the embarrassment over the protest grows too much, and he eventually gives in.
Soon all the students are back in class working on a big end of term production. They have tackled making a film on the second commandment, "Love Others As You Love Yourself."
"Have you seen the movie?" the headmaster asks the teacher responsible for the production. "No. Isn't this exciting?" interrupts another teacher. The lights are cut off and the film begins. We see Bo and Kim meet in the forest. They warmly embrace; it's a long, slow-motion hug. Then Kim removes his shirt, and the two boys kiss.
We're left to wonder how the crowd reacted. What became of the boys? Or the headmaster? Perhaps that's the point. The movie asks us to think for ourselves. We are asked to check our own prejudices and assumptions and draw our own conclusions.
The new DVD of "You are Not Alone" is much better than the grainy, chopped up, poorly subtitled, and edited version I originally saw. I would almost swear the video I got over a decade ago had portions omitted. Several lines and a Danish song which seemed to be placed in a pivotal position were not translated into English for some unexplained reason. While I don't feel the film would be considered too controversial today, it is still a very enjoyable film. Many are moved on a personal level because of just how young one realized they were different. Some feel Lasse Nielsen and Ernst Johansen's film is a classic, groundbreaking meditation on innocence, rebellion, and love. If you haven't seen "You Are Not Alone", you really owe it to yourself to see it. I unreservedly recommend this film.