Babylon Berlin is coming to Netflix and it deserves your attention. You probably haven’t heard of it yet, but the German crime drama set in Pre-World War II Berlin is set to release on Netflix on Tuesday, January 30, and it offers a narrative-driven and suspenseful plot that does not disappoint. The show was Germany’s second most-watched Television show last year, just after Game of Thrones, and this popularity has led to Netflix’s decision to bring the show onto its streaming service. It follows a disenfranchised former World War I soldier-turned-policeman who is transferred to Berlin from his small position in Cologne. There, he uncovers a political conspiracy that will go on to shape the very fabric of Germany in some of its most formative years. The Netflix tagline for the show states that “A Soviet freight train’s hijacking leads a haunted cop and a poor [police] typist to uncover a political conspiracy amid the vice and glamour of 1929 Berlin.” The entire show is spoken in German, but will offer subtitles for those who do not speak the language. Babylon Berlin features award-winning German actors Volker Bruch as the main protagonist, Gereon Rath, and Liv Lisa Fries as the secondary protagonist, Charlotte Ritter. Together, the two work to fight for personal gain, as well as for their nation in a time of great divisiveness. The first two seasons will both be available come Tuesday, so get ready for your next Netflix binge. There are 16 total episodes, 8 per season, and they cover events, both real and fictitious, from 1929-1934. The New York Times writes, “It’s the spring of 1929, and this city [Berlin] is a fast-moving modern metropolis where artistic and sexual experimentation flourishes against a backdrop of organized crime, political street battles and a fragile democratic order.” That description does a great job of summing up the setting of this widely-anticipated show.
70% of the show is shot on-location in Berlin, and the scenes have been meticulously shot to recreate 1920s Berlin. This period piece is not only well-written, but the cinematography is at the top of its class. And, costing nearly $40 million (USD), the show is one of the most expensive shows ever produced in Germany, and it is ready to make the jump to American audiences. The story is based on a series of German novels by author Volker Kutscher. There are six novels thus far, all exploring the exploits of Gereon Roth. The author still plans to write three more novels, culminating in the Kristallnacht, which was the night Adolf Hitler ordered the mass destruction of Jewish property all throughout Germany in an act of hate and violence against the Jewish population of Germany. Pre-World War I through Post-World War II Germany has no shortage of controversy and stories to tell, so the show will have plenty of material to draw from, considering the six novels already written and the actual history behind this time period. There are many parallels of criminal political activity in this show to those we still see in our world today. Babylon Berlin is as much a social commentary as it is an historical narrative. By the time this is printed, the show will have been released on Netflix, so I hope you give it a shot, because it is a multifaceted modern masterpiece.