What are some good movies about Berlin?
May 19, 2012 6:28 PM   Subscribe

What are some good movies about Berlin?

I'll be spending a month in Berlin this summer with the girlfriend. Help us get in the mood!

Bonus points: We'll be traveling in Italy for a week, as well.
posted by chasing to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
"Goodbye, Lenin!" is a fantastic movie that looks at life in Berlin pre- and post- Wall. (Premise: the protagonist is a young man when the wall is starting to come down; his mother sees him arrested at an anti-government protest, has a heart attack, and ends up in a coma. She wakes after the wall has fallen, but the family is warned by the doctor that another shock could kill her. So they go to great lengths to re-create the old East Berlin experience for her in their apartment.)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 6:33 PM on May 19, 2012

Christiane F is a classic. Depressing, but a classic.
posted by mattoxic at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Æon Flux is a terrible, terrible film, but I mention it because it was filmed in Berlin, and the DVD includes an interesting "making of" documentary about how they chose some of the locations.

Wings of Desire
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

"Goodbye, Lenin!" was the first film I thought of when I read this. It has a unique sort of premise and is fairly light-hearted and funny.
Also starring the main actor from "Goodbye, Lenin!" is "The Edukators", though its only partly set in Berlin if I remember right (its been a few years). Its more politically oriented, but also has its humorous moments.
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 6:41 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding Wings of Desire and the Lives of Others. Wiki has a list of films set in Berlin if you don't get enough suggestions here.

Also, Cabaret. And the first half or so of Bent.
posted by K.P. at 6:52 PM on May 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

A historical one (and influential in the history of film) - Berlin, Symphony of a Great City. It's basically a silent, artistic montage of life in Berlin in 1927. You can find it in parts on YouTube.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:56 PM on May 19, 2012

Acctually, skip Bent. It's not really 'about Berlin'--that is, it's not essential that it's set in Berlin, could have easily been another German city from what I remember of it--in the same way that Wings of Desire is 'about Berlin.' Still a good film (partly set in Berlin).
posted by K.P. at 6:59 PM on May 19, 2012

Lou Reed's 1973 album Berlin is a 'rock opera' about 2 junkies in Berlin. There is a well-reviewed film of the 2007 tour when the album was performed in its entirety with a choir and mini-orchestra.
posted by K.P. at 7:18 PM on May 19, 2012

Berlin Alexanderplatz
posted by mr_roboto at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2012

OMG Yes, I had forgotten about "The Lives of Others"; good call, matlock expressway. What a great movie. Its also set in late Cold War era East Berlin, and was very engrossing.
posted by Alonzo T. Calm at 7:40 PM on May 19, 2012

I'm a bit torn on whether it's a good film or whether the fact it's set in Berlin is important, but Coming Out is historically significant for being the first (only?) DDR film with a gay main character. It happened to have its premier on the 9th of November 1989, and is the reason many West Berlin journalists happened to be in East Berlin that night.

Was tun, wenn's brennt (the English name of which escapes me at the moment) is worth a shout as well. I tend to think of it (perhaps wrongly) as kind of silly, but it's got some substance in it about gentrification and what happened to former radicals and terrorists.
posted by hoyland at 8:18 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good luck finding it, but Oben-Unten.
posted by Rash at 8:27 PM on May 19, 2012

Not really about Berlin, but set there, right before the wall went up: One Two Three, James Cagney's last film.
posted by Rash at 8:30 PM on May 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Haven't seen it, but would really like to: Menschen am Sonntag
posted by jann at 8:37 PM on May 19, 2012

A few ideas, good or not, you decide.

24h Berlin
Neukölln Unlimited

The Harmonists
Aimee & Jaguar
Sun Alley
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Herr Lehmann
Go for Zucker
Summer in Berlin

Those listed actually won some award or other.

Yeah, there also are movies like the The Bourne Supremacy and Unknown that feature Berlin.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:38 PM on May 19, 2012

Herr Lehmann takes place in Neuköln and Kreuzberg after unification. It is a fun watch.

Alles auf Zucker is also an option, but does not directly deal with Berlin.

If you're going to Berlin, get ready to move quickly and have fun. I lived in Berlin and I miss the city so much. It is wonderful and you will have a great time there.
posted by Nackt at 8:46 PM on May 19, 2012

posted by jann at 8:50 PM on May 19, 2012

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
posted by jann at 8:51 PM on May 19, 2012

Taxi zum Klo
People on Sunday
posted by brujita at 10:31 PM on May 19, 2012

For some historical perspective, Roberto Rossellini's Germany, Year Zero
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:36 PM on May 19, 2012

Came in to say "Lives of Others," and especially, "Wings of Desire."

Wim Wenders did, "Wings of Desire." I spent some time the other day pondering, "Until The End Of The World," also by Wim Wenders - it may start out in Berlin - I really don't remember. For some reason I have not seen this film in over 10 years, yet I think about it (like "Wings Of Desire") fairly frequently.

Not sure this is what you want. But I KNOW that Wim Wenders is informed by Berlin - it's unmistakable in his work.

posted by jbenben at 12:33 AM on May 20, 2012

The major scenes of The Debt take place in East Berlin.
posted by mdonley at 2:15 AM on May 20, 2012

Berlin Calling is about the city's incredible techno scene. I haven't seen it, but it has a fantastic soundtrack.
posted by hnnrs at 6:47 AM on May 20, 2012

Ooooh.... Berlin Calling.... the complete film is on YT
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:04 AM on May 20, 2012

I saw Torn Curtain (Hitchcock, staring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews) recently. I thought it was interesting as hell for how it portrays the DDR and East Berlin.

Tangentially, Google turned up this article in the Guardian about Hitchcock and his not insignificant relationship to Berlin.

Have fun! Berlin in the summer is the best Berlin.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:26 AM on May 21, 2012

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