Review: ‘Babylon Berlin’ on Netflix and Sky 1

By Anna Breuer on 2 February 2018
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It’s 1929, ten years into the Weimar Republic and the Golden 20s, Berlin is the third-largest metropolis in the world, a place where decadence and artistic expression are often one and the same, while a fragile German democracy runs out the clock before descending into chaos.

This is the world inhabited by “Babylon Berlin,” a crime series guaranteed to be unlike any other.

The Krimi, as the genre is known in German, believed to be the most expensive German-language television show ever produced, made its debut in Germany on Sky 1 in October, its U.K. premiere was last November, and its U.S. debut is this week on Netflix.

It was co-produced by pay TV channel Sky and German public broadcaster ARD, which will broadcast the show over the air later this year.

“Babylon Berlin” follows Kommissar Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) and Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries). Rath has been sent to Berlin from his home in Cologne by Mayor Dr. Konrad Adenauer (who later became West Germany’s first Bundeskanzler) to investigate a blackmail case involving pornography and various public officials. Ritter, who also works at the Polizeipräsidium Berlin, makes the most out of what Weimar Berlin has to offer by turning tricks at night at Moka Efti, a nightclub where Joel Grey’s The Emcee might have seemed downright tame.

Along the way, Kommissar Rath, addicted to morphine and subject to fits of shaking has to deal with pornographers, a Russian freight train carrying poisonous gas and gold, Soviet agents, Armenian mafia, corrupt officials, Trotskyite agitators, a cross-dressing jazz singer, and the occasional National Socialist.

While the cast is magnificent, the real star of “Babylon Berlin” is the city itself, with realistic recreations of the era’s streets, cafes, streetcars, and nightclubs. If you are paying attention, you’ll recognize sites such as the Museumsinsel in Berlin and the Heilandskirche in Potsdam in addition to what was shot in Filmstudio Babelsberg, the oldest film studio in the world.

Make no mistake, “Babylon Berlin” is a masterpiece that tells an epic and gripping story that will draw the viewer in and not relent until the end.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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