BERLIN! After being away for three long months, I am finally back in town. I obviously didn’t forget how much I love this city, as it is somehow always present even when away. But before I start on an ultimately boring praise to Berlin, I’d like to let the pictures about this city speak for themselves. There’s plenty and various images and although New York and London are more like the classic backdrops for films, Berlin is still in quite a few great movies…
There’s always a difference between plain backdrop location and active set in a film. Provoked by shots that linger longer and allow an autonomous view of the city instead of just showing it as the place where a narrative takes place turns a location into a unique protagonist. This was one of the criteria I applied to select the Berlin-films I want to introduce this week. Thus in all of the following Berlin with it’s rough charm, energy and unique history couldn’t have simply been replaced by another city and I think that’s what turns them from just random city films into specific Berlin films…
Berlin – Sinfonie der Grosstadt (D: Walther Ruttmann, D 1927)
It’s the classic Berlin film and a must see for all film students. Ruttmann adapts the rhythm of the city and shows living and working conditions in the times of the industrialisation. Thomas Schadt produced a sequel or remake in 2002, but the original is clearly the one you should watch. Unfortunately they didn’t have trailers in 1927, so here’s the beginning of the film…
Berlin Calling (D: Hannes Stöhr, D 2008)
Of course one cannot attempt a filmic portrait of this City without the aspect of wild partying! I would have liked to use the new Bar 25 film for this purpose, but haven’t had a chance to see it (shameful, I know!). Berlin Calling describes the life of successful DJ Ickarus (Paul Kalkbrenner), who makes tracks from the S-Bahn sounds, but takes too many psychedelic drugs and ends up in a psychiatric clinic. Although negative aspects of the scene are present in Stöhr’s film it is an homage to the Berlin Techno crew and leaves one longing for at least one weekend with Open Airs and at Berghain.
Cycling the Frame / The invisible Frame (D: Cynthia Beatt, USA/D 1988 a. 2009)
1988 Tilda Swinton cycles along the Berlin Wall with her long red hair swaying in the wind. 21 years later Superstar Swinton, now with short blond hair, does the same journey again – only this time there’s no brutal, stone landmark in the pictures. Beatt and Swinton show what the wall separated in wonderfully quiet and calm pictures. Yet these aren’t films about the wall but more so about what it divided, what remained and which associations and feelings it yielded. Both films are fantastic, touching and definitely worth seeing!
The Legend of Paul and Paula (D: Heiner Carow, GDR 1973)
This lovestory is one of the most successful films from the GDR and made protagonists Angelica Domnröse and Winfried Glatzeder stars. The single mom Paula falls in love with her married neighbour Paul, but he only stands by her after mutlitple complications. Carows film is particularly interesting for its depiction of sexuality, gender roles and the life in the GDR, but also for the great music and of course the DEFA (the film studios in the GDR) view onto Berlin.
Run Lola Run (D: Tom Tykwer, D 1998)
Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) has lost 100 000 DM. Unfortunately it wasn’t his own money so now he’s in deep trouble. But his girlfriend Lola (Franka Potente) isn’t about to give up and finds ways to get that kind of money again. Tykwer shows the scenario three times with different outcomes and let’s Lola run through Berlin like crazy turning the city into a deciding factor in this race of life and death.