Fifty Shades of Grey premieres in Berlin to excitement – and unease

11 Feb, 2015 11:52 pm

BERLIN (Web Desk) – The long-anticipated international movie premiere of the soft-porn S&M novel Fifty Shades of Grey has received mixed responses from its first audience at theBerlin film festival, with initial reactions ranging from “harmless” to “excruciatingly boring”.

“That was a total waste of two hours of my life,” said the first person to leave a cinema after the first press screening. “Painful to watch,” she said, “and not because of the S&M, which was almost non-existent.”

Simon Bus, a journalist with the broadcaster Sud-West Rundfunk, said: “It wasn’t quite wasted time, but I wouldn’t want to spend my private time watching it. I’m sure my girlfriend will like it more than me”.

“That was a total waste of two hours of my life,” said the first person to leave a cinema after the first press screening. “Painful to watch,” she said, “and not because of the S&M, which was almost non-existent.”

Simon Bus, a journalist with the broadcaster Sud-West Rundfunk, said: “It wasn’t quite wasted time, but I wouldn’t want to spend my private time watching it. I’m sure my girlfriend will like it more than me”.

But gushing praise came from Lisa Bartsch. “It was great acting and very exciting,” said the reporter for Desired.de, an online fashion magazine for women. “I can’t wait for the sequel.” She rejected criticism that the film cast the female character in a negative light. “I could completely understand her and her behaviour was very convincing,” she said.

Another reviewer for a news agency who declined to be named, said: “Apart from a bit of nipping each other on the lips and a bit of slapping of behinds, nothing but nothing happened – it was excruciatingly boring.”

Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of EL James’s novel, which has sold over 100m copies, has been the hottest ticket at this year’s Berlinale, with festivalgoers reportedly queuing for up to 15 hours to buy a ticket for tonight’s public showing at the newly restored Zoo Palace theatre.


The Berlinale’s decision to showcase the film left Dieter Kosslick, the festival’s director, open to accusations that he was “cashing in”.

But he said it could only be good for Berlin. “We would have been crazy to pass up having the premier in the Zoo Palace. Millions of people want to see this film. It’s going to be a hit, in the real sense of the word.”

Harald Martenstein of the daily Der Tagesspiegel said that the Berlinale, better known for focusing on gritty social issues rather than showcasing soft porn, had “reached its erotic highpoint” by showing Fifty Shades.

But one critic described it as “Rosamund Pilcher with S&M”, while another wrote that holding the international premiere in Berlin fitted a city which took pride in its seedy decadence. “Its mild kinkiness surely suits Berlin’s image of itself.”

Other detractors included film and producer Nelson Farber, who tweeted that he was “pissed off at Berlinale for giving major festival cache to 50 Shades of Grey”.

The appetite for the film in both Germany and the UK is strong, with both territories recording very healthy advance ticket sales.




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