Donated Vision

RIDLEY SCOTT and his daughter, JORDAN, shot “Thunder Perfect Mind,” an advertising clip for PRADA, in Berlin. Actually, Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit should have paid him for it.

Idealism is the belief that outer beauty expresses inner perfection. It is the belief that surfaces impart the identity of being and not its deceptive packaging.

“The master of science-fiction presents a proposal for Berlin’s future: a tattered, multi-layered cosmopolitan city whose confusion of historical periods and ideologies might serve as a showcase for the most beautiful women in the world.

The commercial for the new perfume from Prada uses a lyrical Gnostic text from ancient Egypt in order to bring out the full inner beauty of its reader. And as if that were not enough, this perfect beauty is transplanted to an urban landscape in need of nothing other than a beauty and purity pathetically and painfully lost in the 20th century: Berlin.

Ridley Scott, director of such classics of postmodernism as Blade Runner and Alien, has shot, with his daughter, Jordan, a four-and-a-half minute film that reveals to Germans more about their capital than they would have thought possible after all the deeply felt Teutonic clichés born of humility and self-hatred, provincialism and bad taste. Berlin fully displays its wounded heart but the romantic power and the unsettling comeliness of it is misread at home.

So the master of science-fiction presents a proposal for Berlin’s future: a tattered, multi-layered cosmopolitan city whose confusion of historical periods and ideologies might serve as a showcase for the most beautiful women in the world. Scott’s images cling to the strength of the functionalist architecture of the ’50s, to the optimistic waves of classic modernism and the Prussian elegance of buildings erected since 1989. Like an urban planner, Scott sorts through a city bombed and shattered beyond recognition during two wars.

“Miuccia Prada from Milan, Daria Werbowy from New York, Jordan and Ridley Scott from London: they articulate a desire of world citizens that Berlin returned to its status as a metropolis of the West.”

Daria Werbowy, a model born in Ukraine, raised in Canada, and now a resident of New York at 21, overtly embodies East-West friction. During the shoot, after working for eighteen hours, she still absolutely wanted to go out and consume with relish the excitement of the city. She danced through the early morning hours at “Weekend” on Alexanderplatz.

Prada’s party for the premiere of the film, staged by the office of Rem Koolhaas in an old indoor swimming pool, was a preview of the inspiring mundanity that – given the necessary economic growth and prosperity – could dispel all self-pitying sorrow. Women with hairstyles rather than hair, with sumptuous, expensive clothes instead of those ubiquitous worn-out jeans, graceful high heels instead of the ratty sneakers that have become so uniform. And all that in Prenzlauer Berg, with hostesses who direct the goings on politely and attentively. The walls of the old city bath may be peeling but the arched ceiling was lit like the Sistine Chapel. Koolhaas, too, wanted the inner beauty of Berlin to shine through. Without makeup.

Miuccia Prada from Milan, Daria Werbowy from New York, Jordan and Ridley Scott from London: they articulate a desire of world citizens that Berlin returned to its status as a metropolis of the West. That is why they are donating to the city a vision that makes so many German efforts seem so cheap, inelegant, and small-minded.

What one encounters in the Prada ad is the look of love a development aid worker gives to the needy. Nothing hamstrings the country like its lack of a sense of scale. The Germans’ fear of freedom and the social differences that result have turned them into a pusillanimous people of petty bourgeois sensibilities who look to hair stylist Udo Walz for glamour and tennis player Michael Stich for elegance so that they won’t have to grow up themselves.#

Berlin is a workshop of new size. Born in 1989 at the end of the Cold War, the city is now in its puberty and younger than the actress playing the lead. Youth is its greatest luxury; it must not remain the only one.

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By ULF POSCHARDT

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