Babylon Berlin: Note on the use of Ruttmann’s abstract movies

The TV series Babylon Berlin, which portrays the criminal, economical and political milieus of Berlin at the end of the 1920s, uses abstract cinema from the early 1920s for its closing credits. The material is by Walter Ruttmann, who also showed it in 1925 in a film matinee of the socialist Novembergruppe called “Der absolute Film”. An interpretation:

These abstract movies of Ruttmann are from the early 1920s, in the 1930s Ruttmann made propaganda movies for the Nazis. The atmosphere of the coming Nazi state which is set in this TV series (with the Reichswehr build up, SA attacks, the Blutmai, or the Ali Höhler plot), is looming behind the scenes of expressionist extravaganza of dances, cinema and pursuits in the shadows. The biggest cliff-hanger is the whole series pointing to 1933. Taking the biography of Ruttmann into account, this cliff-hanger can be seen in these end-credits of expressionist light games of a film-maker who became himself a Nazi.

At the end of season three we see a large body moving in the gutter, its abstract body shape with thorny skin reminds us of one of Ruttmann’s abstract shapes, but mutated into a monster.

Or it is just atmospheric use of abstract art, to cool our blood after all the political, economical and sexual violence in this series.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s