New York Review of Books: “In the streets of Berlin, one is often struck by the momentary insight that someday all this will suddenly burst apart,” observed the critic and journalist Siegfried Kracauer in a 1926 essay on the city’s picture palaces. Because of its fragility, the irreconcilable forces that threatened it, and the apocalyptic air that came to enshroud its short-lived existence, the Weimar Republic has often been perceived as “a dance on the edge of a volcano,” as the great Yale historian Peter Gay famously called it, or a “voluptuous panic,” as Mel Gordon titled his erotic history of the period.
Small wonder that artists, writers, and filmmakers have been drawn, again and again, over generations, to depict that time and place. But not since Rainer Werner Fassbinder adapted Alfred Döblin’s acclaimed 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz into a fourteen-episode production that aired on West German television in 1980 has there been as much talk about a German television series set in the Weimar era as there has been this year about Babylon Berlin. Its first two seasons, now available on Netflix, encompass sixteen episodes chronicling the turbulent spring of 1929. Read more.