The affluent lawyer Thomas Beck neglects his wife Irene in favour of work, and she embarks on a romance with a painter. Beck manages to prevent the pair from taking off to Vienna together, but in response, Irene throws herself wholeheartedly into Berlin’s nightlife. She carries on provocatively with a boxer, which ends in an attempted rape – and lands the Becks in divorce court … The original “Babylon Berlin”! G. W. Pabst, the great realist of Weimar-era cinema, uses a marital crisis to paint a shimmering portrait of society. Camerawork that is as unchained as Irene herself delves into a whirling world of luxury and vice. With a kind of “new functionalism”, it lays out drug use and prostitution both in the bohemian milieu and among the putative better set. And like the painter in the film, the camera is beguiled by Irene’s gaze as it caresses actress Brigitte Helm. Wrapped in recherché robes and furs, Helm embodies a woman trapped in the gilded cage of marriage. And Irene’s attempt to flee is less of a threat to the continued existence of that institution than the “new woman”, with her bobbed hair and cigarette holder, who makes a fascinating appearance in the film.
Georg Wilhelm Pabst
98’ · 2K DCP
Digitally Restored Version 2017/18
Gustav DiesslBrigitte HelmHertha von WaltherJack TrevorFritz OdemarNico TuroffIlse BachmannRichard SoraPeter C. LeschkaIrm Cherry
Erda-Film GmbH, Berlin, für/for Universal Pictures Corp. mbH
DCP: Filmmuseum München
Digital Restoration: Filmmuseum München in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Filmarchiv Austria