A post for Omnified by Eleanor Cantor
Many Berliners are natural ranters and complainers – myself included. Perhaps it is the weather. Hence, when I first heard about the outrage surrounding the new “Berlin, I Love You” film, I was somewhat skeptical. However, after (painfully) watching the trailer a couple of times I have to hand it to my fellow Berliners: it is indeed a stinker, but perhaps not in the way some Berliners think it is.
Here’s the thing: many of the social media comments were of the “this is the beginning of the end” and “there goes the neighborhood” variety. But let’s be honest, Berlin did not need a mainstream flick to break its indie insider flare. The last nail in the coffin of Berlin’s image as an underground haven had been hammered in long before articles starting with the lines: “the last nail in the coffin of Berlin’s image as an underground haven” were first published.
It’s been quite a while since two-Deutsche mark home brew was sold under umbrellas-turned-illegal-bars in Prenzlauer Berg. So if someone needed Orlando Bloom to waken them to the fact that their dear Berlin is now “just” a well-traveled investors-luring European capital, that someone must’ve been lying passed out on the couch at the old White Trash for the past 15 years.
So what is the problem with this trailer?
The answer is that it fails in a general film trailer way. Any trailer starting with statements such as “a pounding heartbeat grown out of a divided nation” and ending with “everything is possible” deserves a chorus of booing. The line “people come to Berlin to dream, to dance and to fall in love” would have been equally bad if you replaced “Berlin” with “Dublin,” “Lisbon,” or “Texarkana.” Even a parody on movie trailers would avoid using such clichés.
It’s not that the trailer – and possibly the film – misses the point about Berlin, or “didn’t get the spirit of the city” as its vehement critics on social media claim. It simply misses the point about life. It doesn’t get the spirit of humans, of character, of complexity – of good cinema. But then again neither did “Jurassic World” or “Solo” or a whole number of other celebrity-driven blockbusters. So are we really going to get mad about moldy clichés and bad mainstream movies just because they have “Berlin” in the title?
However, there are three particularly stinky points about this particular stinky trailer which do deserve a mention. They are as follows:
One blogger put it like this: “I cannot stand anymore how privileged people use the label ‘refugee’ to sell their emo s***.” Indeed, it would seem, unless the trailer is particularly misleading, that the idea of a refugee is used as a vehicle to reflect the emotional drama of the white character (Keira Knightley as an upper class Brit volunteering in a shelter). Often we’re presented with “the other” as the backdrop of the European’s soul-searching journey – not a person with a voice of his or her own. If I find out, however, that 50 percent of the proceeds of the film go for helping refugees then maybe I can live with that.
Secondly – speaking of 50 percent, the trailer shows a (shall we say…ripe?) Mickey Rourke hitting on a much younger blonde who pokes fun at him: “what are your odds?” she asks – “50/50” he replies. Guess what? He gets the girl. Seriously?! How long will we be sold this old charmer-young woman fairytale? Why do filmmakers keep showing us pretty, well-adjusted and seemingly independent females falling for some rough-around-the-edges boozer with a colorful history? The message is: Young women and their beauty are a commodity. If you’re not rich enough to buy – don’t worry – being a bit of a jerk will also get you there. Is that really all it takes? Bad boy dimples and a cognac burp and you cop off with ladies half your age? The #MeToo movement has shown us that this message – much like Mickey Rourke – has not aged well.
Finally – is this really a man with angel wings I see crossing the frame just about a minute in?! Arrrggghhh! No! Not the Wim Wenders wink! Perrrrrlease!
I will be honoring this film premiere by digging out my VHS copy of “Sonnenallee.” If it’s gonna be clichés and exploitation – let’s at least have funny cars and wallpaper.