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Weimar/Wunderbar: The Decadence and Danger of ‘Babylon Berlin’

"Weimar was a famously hectic, louche, and creative period, and 'Babylon' gives it a gorgeous sheen."

“Life comes flooding in from all directions in Babylon Berlin, the most expensive German TV series ever, which has become an international hit,” reports Jon Powers. “Based on a series of novels by Volker Kutscher, this 16-parter began streaming on Netflix at the end of January, and though not as searingly great as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1980 miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz, it’s far more fun and binge-able.

“The scene is 1929 Berlin, near the end of the vibrant, violent Weimar era that will soon curdle into the horrors of Nazism. The hero, Gereon Rath, is an upright but tormented vice cop recently transferred to Berlin from Cologne.

“Rath is trying to track down a pornography ring that has compromising photos of Cologne’s mayor. While this sounds straightforward enough, he’s soon confronted with political corruption and a freight train filled with mysterious cargo.” To read the full article, click here.

“Most of the production was filmed on location in Berlin, and the long tracking exteriors along cobbled streets with vintage cars, passenger trams, and scamps begging for coins are dazzling,” Taylor Antrim assesses. “We’re treated to busy Alexanderplatz, squalid tenements with coin-operated lights, coal-fired trains that screech and belch smoke, and bustlingly sexy nightclubs full of pristine Bauhaus designs. Weimar was a famously hectic, louche, and creative period, and Babylon gives it a gorgeous sheen.” To read the full article, click here

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To read about the visual effects created for Babylon Berlin, click here.

To watch a reel of the show’s visual effects, click here

“The trick is to try to create the sense that the people at the time don’t know what’s going to happen,” co-creator Tom Tykwer tells Scott Roxborough. “No one in 1929 could have imagined what would become of Germany.”

“The 1920s was a crazy time, society wasn’t fixed, conservative and cautious, but experimental,” adds co-creator Achim von Borriess. “Berlin was a international, cosmopolitan capital, attracting young people and artists from around the world, much like it is again today. They all came together on Berlin’s streets: communists, Nazis, feminists, homosexuals.” To read the full interview, click here.

Babylon Berlin has a fun, intriguing, artsy start and it promises viewers that more drama is due to come,” Meghan O’Keefe says. “But what makes it really engaging is how eager it is to show a different side of 20th Century Germany than we’re used to seeing. 

“This is the last gasp of bohemia in Germany before Hitler and the Nazis rose to power. Babylon Berlin is a show about crime, sin, degradation, romance, and glamour. It’s a more freewheeling Germany, one with more sex and danger, and a lot less absolute evil.” To read the full article, click here.

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