Babylon Berlin: Netflix new drama is an scorching express elevator to oblivion
Looking for a good time?
Forget checking into the Hotel California.
Find a flat or rent a room in Babylon Berlin circa 1929.
Think Cabaret on toot and morphine.
There’s everything a depraved soul could want in the Weimer Republic’s Village of the Damned: an abundance of sex and drugs and even some F2M cross-dressing Princeian pseudo-rock & roll.
Plus Russian collusion of the Stalinist & Trotskyite variety just to stir the pot.
And a mysterious railroad car filled with – well, that would be giving away more than a copped feel…
It’s a commitment: sixteen episodes which Your Uncle Bruno greedily devoured in a two weekend long semi-binges.
An excellent review by Ed Driscoll of PJMedia can be found here.
The successful but hard-drinking detective has been a staple of film noir since the days of Humphrey Bogart. But it’s not very often that you see a police detective addicted to morphine. Babylon Berlin, the subtitled German TV series whose first two seasons debuted on Netflix at the start of the month, is a look at a 20th century Pompeii – you know there are no happy endings for the characters in a series set in Weimar Germany in 1929.
In Chinatown, Jack Nicholson tells Faye Dunaway that back when he was a rookie policeman assigned by the police force to work in Chinatown, things were so confusing, politics and morals shifting so quickly, he was ordered by his superiors to do “as little as possible.” Babylon Berlin depicts a Weimar as the ultimate Chinatown where what was reality today might not be the same tomorrow.
(Don’t be put off by the subtitles; I watched the dubbed English version)
And this gem:
As Glenn Reynolds wrote at Instapundit last year, “The thing is, you don’t get Hitler because of Hitler — there are always potential Hitlers out there. You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity.”
As for American viewers, Babylon Berlin isn’t a documentary on epistemology and its impact on history. You won’t come away with much knowledge of the Treaty of Versailles and how a sea change in philosophy in the 19th century led to the decadence of the Weimar era and the horrors to come. But it’s great television (if at times NC-17-rated), and I certainly hope there’s a third season for Netflix to acquire.
Babylon Berlin is gorgeously filmed lascivious moral pornography.
Come to the cabaret…