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Berlin: City in the Movies

Posted February 19, 2010 to photo album "Berlin: City in the Movies"

Scott Macaulay clicks through the various characters this city has played.

Slide 1: Berlin - A City in Film
Slide 2: Metropolis - City of the Future
Slide 3: M - City of Fear
Slide 4: One, Two, Three - City of the West
Slide 5: Torn Curtain - City of Spies
Slide 6: Cabaret - City of Excess
Slide 7: Berlin Alexanderplatz - City of Consciousness
Slide 8: Christiane F - City of Drugs
Slide 9: Taxi zum Klo - City of Sex
Slide 10: Wings of Desire - City of Angels
Slide 11: Good Bye, Lenin - City of the East
Slide 9: Taxi zum Klo - City of Sex

Slide 9: Taxi zum Klo - City of Sex

Also in 1981 was Frank Ripploh’s film about Berlin’s vibrant gay culture, Taxi zum Klo. Ripploh played himself in the autobiographical independent film about a high school teacher in a long-term relationship who enages in anonymous sex at night in Berlin’s bathhouses and public bathrooms. Made on a tiny budget and shot on location, Taxi Zum Klo appeared in cinemas at the same time as Hollywood’s attempt to make a gay film — the bland, studio-bound Making Love. But with its explicit sex, SM and casual LSD use, it represented the defiant response to any attempt to cinematically assimilate gay culture within the norms of mainstream representations. Along with many of the films on this list, the Berlin of Taxi Zum Klo is both a place but also an idea, a realization that New York Times critic Vincent Canby touched on when he wrote about the film after seeing it at the New York Film Festival. “It's not only about a character named Frank Ripploh but about one small section of the Western world in which he lives, where old values relating to love, sex, fidelity, the sanctity of privacy and even politics no longer hold, and where, as yet, no new values have taken their place,” he commented. “At the end of the film we know that Frank Ripploh, dressed in drag as a hilariously burly houri for the annual West Berlin 'queens'’ ball, is going off into the sunrise to make this very film, which may be the strangest happy ending any film ever had.”