The moment when the series picks up speed and develops a suction that one can no longer get by from now on, meets the four on the roof of the department store, Hedi, Fritzi, Harry and Georg. Below is Berlin, behind them the “Kadewe” lettering sparkles its golden promise in the night sky. The previous party left its mark on faces and bodies, and not just because everyone now has a tattooed heart on the tip of their little finger. Which when put together makes a shamrock.
Tuxedo vests stand open, glitter dust glows on heated cheeks. The painted mustaches of the women are long gone, the correct Georg really has a crooked tie. Harry picked up a couple of oversized crow’s wings in the nightclub, with which he now looks like a dark angel. And because the night is sweet and life is full of promises, they take the sacred vow not to let happiness pass when it should show itself – no matter what the cost.
It’s a scene so full to the brim with youth, yearning and rebellion that one has probably never seen it so poetically on German television. The fact that these are the twenties and the calamity is already waiting in the backdrop, ready to descend like a dark angel on the four, breaks your heart without a hitch.
The public service history television has taken on another institution
Until then, there are a few cliffs to circumnavigate, some of which (admittedly) only exist in your own cynical imagination. So, so, after the “Adlon” and the “Charité”, the public service history television has taken on another Berlin institution: This time the Kadewe, stupidly advertised by the ARD as the “most famous department store in the world”, the whole thing settled again – “Babylon Berlin” still existed – in the twenties that were celebrated to death. You can see it right in front of you: top hats, sequins and flowing fur coats, assiduous frolleins, nazis-to-be and big-hearted whores in the red-lighted establishments of the city. What’s next – “Hackesche Höfe”, “Berlin, Rosenthaler Platz”? “Kranzler”?
The first episode of Eldorado KaDeWe – Now is our time the fears seem to be topped insofar as the historical staff has been expanded to include so-called fringe groups, which a committed screenplay must nowadays portray. In addition to the real Kadewe patriarch Adolf Jandorf, his son Harry (Joel Basman) and the young accountant Georg Karg (Damian Thüne) there are also: Harry’s lesbian sister Fritzi (looks and plays like Charlotte Gainsbourg, but is called Lia von Blarer) who falls in love with the penniless Hedi (Valerie Stoll) from women’s clothing, who has to feed a little sister with Down syndrome and is engaged to a Nazi-to-be. The big-hearted whore is black, the stage in the red-light nightclub Eldorado is populated by funny and lustful lesbians and trans women, phew, you think first, what else?
The dialogues don’t make it easy for you either, you can find them, according to your taste, lyrically artful or puffed up like a treatise, in any case, living and breathing people rarely talk like this:
LESBIAN Seamstress: “The modern woman no longer puts her being in the foreground, but her performance.”
HARRY: “What achievement?”
FRITZI: “The women who wear them feel connected to each other through uniformity and similar clothing styles. Competition and sexual envy take a back seat.”
In the end, none of that matters, because Eldorado Kadewe subverts expectations in every conceivable sense, and that starts with the shamrock; at its center the love story. The rich merchant’s daughter Fritzi with the bold Garçonne look and subversive views and the big-eyed Hedi from the backyard, who ultimately becomes the advertising face of Kadewe: How these two find each other and fall for each other with fingers, skin, hair and hurray, you have to As a matter of course, tell first in 2021. Then there is Fritzi’s brother Harry, who dragged his inner demon back to Berlin from the trenches of the First World War: As a dead soldier with bleeding stumps, he sometimes sits next to him and whispers obscenities in his ear with a grinning face. Fourth member of the Schicksalsbund: the accountant Georg, the son of a drinker with binge eating, who wants to get through these turbulent times by simply doing his duty …
Anyone who was really young can understand Julia von Heinz
Friendship, crossing borders, youthful Sturm und Drang. Few can translate this into pictures as precisely and with a full heart as the director Julia von Heinz (“Hanna’s journey”, “And tomorrow the whole world”), who also co-wrote the script. Already the cast of four great young actors on the clover leaf is a stroke of luck, the growing affection for them is the fuel of history. “Do you know that? When you think you have to die of monotony?” Says Hedi to Fritzi. “You wake up with the hope that something will finally, finally, happen.” Anyone who has ever been really young can sign these sentences.
Last but not least, Heinz is also: a woman who knows how to use a feminist opportunity. There is in Eldorado Kadewe a bit of masculine, but abundant female nudity, well-lit nude breasts, peek-a-boobs exposed for three packets of cigarettes, bouncing vaudeville breasts with nipple tassels, as well as pubic hair, armpit hair and a lot of explicit and extremely sensual and aesthetically staged female sex . Just the wonderful idea of how the late-night pint slips out of the hand of the regular ARD audience from 8:15 p.m. is reason enough to watch this series.
As for the plot, anything you already know or just fear is about to happen is actually happening. The Jewish merchants’ children get the Kadewe afloat before it falls victim to the Great Depression and then to the Nazis. Fritzi’s “abnormal disposition” is treated with electric shocks on the orders of his mother, Hedi has to marry the Nazi out of sheer existential need, Harry falls into drunkenness, whores and cocaine, while Georg does what time and its masters demand of him.
At first hesitantly and then more and more extensively, the backdrop of today’s Berlin pushes itself behind the actors. As a viewer, you think it’s a mishap at first: The fact that the twenties’ staff with their polished tails, stand-up collars and glittery dresses is out and about in a city where white Mercedes taxes and BVG buses drive past shop windows with sales signs. This is the greatest surprise and the most wonderful directing idea of all: It just did not turn out to be a historical drama in which the fee payer is served authentically remodeled cloakrooms, living room wallpapers and the reassuring feeling that the horror is sealed deep in the past. Eldorado Kadewe In this sense, it tells a universal story that is just as valid in 2021 as it was a hundred years earlier. What luck.
Eldorado Kadewe, Monday, December 27th, Das Erste, from 8.15 p.m., also in the ARD media library. On December 26th at 7:40 pm, Das Erste will also be showing the documentation “Mythos KaDeWe – The Department Store of the West”.