Legendary Sin Cities: Paris Berlin & Shanghai [DVD] [Import]

Writer Ted Remerowski
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If you think today's society is the reigning champ at hitting record lows of morality and decadence, think again. Surprisingly, our ancestors in a lot of ways have us beat by miles. The three-part Canadian CBC documentary Sin Cities focuses on the most notoriously decadent cities in modern history: Berlin, Paris and Shanghai during the 1920s and 1930s. And if you think rampant drug use, openly promiscuous behavior, sado-masochism and bizarre fetishes are modern phenomena, you may be surprised of what was going in the early 20th century. What made these notoriously sinful cities flourish was a unique gathering of artists, revolutionary political ideas, highly valued foreign money, and an overwhelming feeling of abandonment which was a direct byproduct of World War I's ending. These variables bred a unique tolerance that allowed and encouraged eroticism, permissiveness and deviant indulgences to openly flourish. This documentary does an excellent job at explaining how these cities rose, why they attracted the brightest and wealthiest, how the cities flourished, their ultimate decline and why their infamous pasts are still an integral part of their modern-day allure. --Rob Bracco