The wonderful thing about Netflix is that every once in a while they present a gem of a series you would not have known about if they hadn’t carried it. ‘Babylon Berlin’ is one such jewel. It will draw you in and keep you interested with its engaging characters, intricate plot, and cinematographic style that captures the realism, and surrealism, of the period.
Set in 1929 Weimar Republic Germany it follows Cologne police Inspector Gereon Rath (played by Volker Bruch) as he and his Berlin counterpart, Detective Chief Inspector Bruno Wolter (Peter Kurth) investigate the Berlin vice underbelly of pornography, prostitution, and narcotics looking for a particular piece of politically damaging film. On the way, we run into Charlotte Fries (Liv Lisa Fries) a flapper and “It” girl from the impoverished slums of Wedding who will do most anything to support herself and her family including working as a part-time prostitute at the Moka Efti cabaret. But mostly, she works as a part-time office worker at the Berlin Police office where she dreams of someday becoming a detective herself. As Rath continues with his investigation of Berlin organized crime he eventually comes across Charlotte’s own amateur inquiries into the death of a railroad worker with ties to Russian Communist insurgents. Together they work to solve the mystery of a railroad car full of gold that seems to involve Stalinist secret police agents, organized criminals, corrupt politicians, and fascist thugs. The end will surprise you.
‘Babylon Berlin’ is based on Volker Kutscher’s novels adapted to television by Tom Tykwer (‘Sense8’), Achim von Borries, and Hendrik Handloegton and produced by Stefan Arndt (‘Cloud Atlas’), Uwe Schott, and Michael Polle of X Filme Creative Pool. There are 16 episodes, 45 minutes each and in German with English subtitles. If you feel intimidated by the fact that it is in German with subtitles get over it -after following the plot and action you’ll be speaking Deutsch in no time.
I gave it a 5 out of 5 after binging it on Netflix and highly recommend it.
-A. M. Holmes