Film untangles life of celebrity German playboy

Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:58am EST
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - The life of Germany's most celebrated playboy has made a big screen splash at the Berlin film festival, offering a riveting portrayal of the Jewish night club mogul who helped post-war Berlin learn to laugh again.

"The Big Eden," an entertaining documentary about Shimon "Rolf" Eden, is more than just a story about an 80-year-old who has seduced a long line of young women over the last 60 years with his unique charm.

The warmly applauded film shows unexpected facets of Eden -- an Israeli soldier who returned to Berlin after World War Two with no bitterness about the Holocaust -- and how he made his fortune in Berlin running the city's most popular night clubs.

"I've had a lot of luck in life," Eden said on Tuesday after watching the world premiere with former girlfriends, his seven children and most of their seven mothers. "I'm still not sure why I've had so much luck. I hope it continues for a while."

Eden, who boasts that he has had thousands of girlfriends, may be seen in Berlin now as a bit of an oddity. With bleached blond hair and a permanent tan, he is often seen strolling along Berlin's avenues with one of his many young women on his arm.

But the film by Peter Doerfler shows new insights into the ever-smiling man whose family escaped the Holocaust by leaving Berlin in 1933 and who in the 1950s went to Paris with just a few dollars in his pocket.

"A lot of people groaned when I first said I wanted to do a film on Eden," Doerfler told Reuters, admitting he had once thought that he was an embarrassing figure. "But there's so much more to him that you discover when you look a bit deeper."

NIGHT CLUBBING   Continued...