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Legendary Sin Cities - Paris, Berlin & Shanghai


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Unique documentary series of 3 programs produced by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) that separately profile the spontaneous growth, flowering and decay of Paris, Berlin and Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, 3 cities that pushed the limits of tolerance and freedom during the period between the world wars and defined the social, political and sexual culture of the 20th Century. Contains nudity.

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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

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Directors: Ted Remerowski, Marrin Canell
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Shanachie
  • DVD Release Date: March 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 210 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CSUNTI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,496 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Legendary Sin Cities - Paris, Berlin & Shanghai" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gerard D. Launay on July 5, 2006
Format: DVD
The thesis of this documentary is that the extraordinary

sexual freedom and license in the 1920-1930's in three cities

(Berlin, Paris, & Shanghai) became a draw to the great artists

and literary figures of Europe. It is without doubt that Paris and Berlin did generate a renaissance of artistic creation during these decades but there were other factors such as

the flood of Russians from the excesses of communism, the

liberal attitudes of the Weimar republic, and the end of World War I so that artists did have an oppostunity to create without being engulfed in violent conflict. Nevertheless, the two DVD

set is thought provoking. For example, I learned that Berlin

waas the birthplace of the first film that dealt with the topic of homosexuals' struggling for acceptance in a hostile world. I also learned that Shanghai was totally ruled by gangsters so that even the police were hired from the ganster world. Overall,

a worthwhile documentary of a unique time in world history.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Walter Meyer on September 3, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A two-DVD set for those interested in at least one form of entertainment flourishing in Berlin, Paris and Shanghai between the two world wars. Apparently sin and debauchery really knew few borders during that time. Much of the contents is illustrated commentary and I, for one, would have wished for more illustration and less commentary, e.g., more of entertainers like Josephine Baker in the Paris portion and of Claire Waldoff and Marlene Dietrich in the Berlin portion. Just about totally absent were routines by the Berlin cabaret comedians but perhaps they weren't considered sufficiently sinful and maybe there isn't much film footage about them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kya on December 14, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I simply love "Legendary Sin Cities. Overviews of Paris, Berlin & Shanghai particularily in the 20s and early 30's (except for Shanghai which goes into the late 30's). Commentators are experts in some aspect of each city of the era. Most of the commentators have authored a book or two on their respective city/subjects. I recommend buying the books for additional more in depth material. I found reading about Shanghai particularily interesting and now have @ least read 5 books about Shanghai in the 20's & 30's which has added to my Chinese studies (classic literature and non-fiction histories, etc.). I only wishes there were a Part 2 to this CD which could surely be expanded as there is no end to the additional interesting material in each culture/city.
Obviously these sin cities (open cities) only existed due to influx of money, which oddly really didn't filter down to the poor and desperate. So these cities, while drawing outsiders, abounded in criminality @ every level and ignored for the most part the poor and desperate. Have things changed that much?
I highly recommend this video.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Martinak on July 17, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great DVD if you want to understand life in Paris and Berlin with the sexual mores between the world wars. Just returned from France, they have a three story sex museum that also covers this subject. The one DVD on Shanghai is a bit week, however I was amazed at what was happening in Paris and Berlin during the 1920's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eugene B. on February 10, 2013
Format: DVD
This is a GREAT documentary!!! It's too bad that this version is a widescreen picture in a 4 X 3 aspect ratio. Please put this documentary on the Blu-ray format with the proper anamorphic widescreen presentation it deserves!
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By JIsaacs1962 on October 10, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I thought I knew quite a bit about the 1920s and 1930s, but Legendary Sin Cities contained a wealth of information about the period that has been systematically excluded from American history books. Through this documentary, I discovered that the 1920s and 1930s were not only about Prohibition, American gangsters, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the rise to power of Hitler, but also a much more vital, modern, and vibrant moment of human history. The moral revisionists of the 1950s and 1960s did all they could to blot the memory of the daring bon-vivant culture from the history books and this documentary restore a sizable portion of it. I would give it 10 stars for no better reason than I now understand who my grandparents were and what they did in Paris between the wars.
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I enjoyed very much the collection of three documentaries about Berlin, Paris and Shanghai, but I found them of uneven quality. The one on Berlin had too much focus on sexual perversions, and very little sociological analysis of the times. The one on Paris was interested but too antisceptic, focusing more on the intellectual class and too little on the average citizen's mores. The one on Shanghai was the most interesting, with aspects little known to many Westerners, and therefore it was didactic to show the influence of the European colonialism in the nascent and affluent merchant town.
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