Tuesday, April 14, 2020

An “Absorbing” Look at Historical Chaos

The German-made historical crime series Babylon Berlin—the third season of which reached Netflix in the States last month—is winning a lot of favorable press lately. Sarah Hughes remarks in The Guardian that writer-director “Tom Tykwer’s ambitious adaptation of Volker Kutscher’s police procedurals … [offers] the chance to lose yourself in a fully realised and beautifully recreated world, populated by people you will come to genuinely care about, driven by tight plots and a wider story of how the after-effects of the First World War would send shockwaves through the German nation, eventually leading to the collapse of an all-too-brief progressive government and the subsequent rise to power of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.”

Meanwhile, Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk calls Babylon Berlin “an amazing show for right now: politically resonant but historically removed, stylistic and melodramatic, endearing, bracing, and completely absorbing. It’s about the sense that the whole world is teetering on the edge of collapse, so it’s not hard to reach for parallels to the current moment; the final shot of the new third season is one of the most accurate images I’ve seen of what it feels like to be alive in the world in 2020. But that final shot is also perfect, escapist Babylon Berlin: anxiety shaped into Surrealism, a nightmare turned fantasy.”

Hmm. This series didn’t grab me in the same way it has obviously gripped others; I stopped tuning Babylon Berlin in partway through its first season. Maybe I should give it a second chance.


Unknown said...

I’m close to the end of the first season myself and almost didn’t get past episode 4. In fact, I didn’t pick it up again until this recent streaming-a-thin and had to start from the beginning. It’s grabbed me more now because of the atmosphere it creates. One thing I’ve noticed...if you view it with subtitles they don’t quite match the dubbed dialog, which I find strange.

We’ll see if I get through to season 3.

Cora Buhlert said...

I'm German and I don't like Babylon Berlin either. The Volker Kutscher novels, on which the series is based, are excellent and well reserved. The TV show not so much.