Victoria Jelinek


The story takes place in 1920’s Berlin. After having a fling with a British writer, American chanteuse Sally Bowles tries to create a career as a gold-digger, making overtures to a handsome aristocrat, while the Nazi rise to power puts dampers on their swinging lifestyle.

Based on English author Christopher Isherwood’s autobiography Berlin Stories, the book opens with the lines “I am a camera with its shutter open.” These lines signify a snapshot of a lost world, the cosmopolitan Berlin of the 20’s and 30’s, where cheerful expats dance and revel, whirling faster and faster in the hope that it will save them from the rise of the Nazis. In the film, Isherwood’s character, the audacious and tragic Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), takes centre stage.

Liza Minnelli, whose later work included Arthur, is great in this role and looks fabulous in her 20’s fashions.  Director Bob Fosse’s (Chicago, Lenny) choreography and camera work is dazzling. This film holds up as a great musical that’s exceedingly enjoyable even as it’s also sometimes chilling. Released in 1972, the film won eight Academy Awards.

Berlin in the Summer

Berlin in the summer is absolutely and completely wonderful – warm, bikes to rent with your cell phone on each corner, then leave on any corner when you’re done, the Tiergarten and zoo next to the Zoo Station, the Potsdammer Platz for wide boulevards of shopping, and if you go west along it all the way, you’ll come to the old expatriate zone (during WWII), AND also, there’s Grunewald Baumgarten, where you can walk/ride a bike, and also visit the great collection of Modern art – small, but fine – called the Brucke Museum (David Bowie’s favorite, as he and Iggy Pop spent a lot of time in Berlin in the 70’s), Prinz Lauer Berg for hipster boutiques, parks, cafes and bars, (including where you pay for your wine after you’ve drunk it on an honor system), and ‘rotating’ dance/club nights – one of which I went to there were Russ Myer films playing on a reel, a Mariachi band playing Doobie Brothers tunes, and a bucking bull with a prize of a tequila with a worm. Also in Prinz Lauer Berg is the best curry wurst stand in all of Berlin. So many cultural events on offer to the public every day it’s hard to keep track of. There are lakes just outside of the city – maybe 20 minutes by car – to swim in, the Brandenburg Gate and Friedrichstrasse, where there is also “Checkpoint Charlie”, a few associated museums around that, there are man made ‘beaches’ all along Museum Isle (where the national, new national museums are and are gorgeous and contrasting architectural types), where you sit on beach chairs in the sand, buy crepes, beer or wine or coffee and sunbathe on the water looking at the Reichstag (for pete’s sake), and there’s the new (ish) Sony Center and Palast theatre, near the Grand Hyatt, which is also the center for the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market, and the new (ish) Holocaust Museum whose building is as much a part of the exhibition as the exhibition itself (very eerie, really wonderful).