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Berlin: An Eye For Film
by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Each year Volkswagen gives financial support to anyone with an innovative idea for the Berlin Film Festival. This year’s idea was a film location tour and the man behind the idea was Burkhard Heyl, a Berlin actor and screenwriter. Having worked with a film location company, he was acquainted with many sites that are depicted in movies shot in Berlin.  Berlin is a city of contrasts with an amazing history. It naturally lends itself to cinematic locations since there are many different architectural styles and interesting ambiances.

The tour started at Potsdamer Platz. Heyl pointed out the former Berlin Wall which is marked by broad concrete lines running throughout the city. Several pieces of the Wall still stand as a memorial. Before Potsdamer Platz went up, there was a vast expanse of nothingness at the Kaisersaal which can be viewed in Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire. A great film directed by Billy Wilder is One Two Three which was filmed at theAnhalter Bahnof. The train station was converted into a hotel entrance. Since it is located on the dividing line between East and West, Wilder was not allowed to film the other side of the train station and had to come up with a different plan. Creativity is essential. The Brandenburger Tor is also in One Two Three. Luckily, two Berlin residents on the tour knew every aspect of this film. They pointed out lines and ideas that other film makers had used which correlated to this film. Wings of Desire has a scene where Peter Falk tries on 26 hats and in Goodbye Lenin actors hang up a Coca Cola banner which directly refers to Billy Wilder’s film.

Checkpoint Charlie symbolizes the Cold War in films with perhaps the most famous being James Bond’s Octopussy. Leipziger Strasse features East Berlin architecture and is where Paul Greengrass directed an action-packed The Bourne Supremacy. Matt Damon plays an ex-CIA agent. In Goodbye Lenin by Wolfgang Becker there is a dramatic protest scene where the mother has a serious shock that puts her into a coma after seeing her son attacked by soldiers. This takes place at the intersection of Leipziger Strasse and Friedrichstrasse. Many of these building have been restored so that the old GDR style is slowly disappearing, except for those with tiles on the outside like the building at Strassberger Platz. Stalin put up these building with inferior glue. With time the tiles fell off but have now been replaced and this area has quite a lot of charm these days.

Around the World in 80 Days was filmed at the Gendarmenmarkt. Lola Rennt was actually filmed in at least four locations including Mauerstrasse, S-Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse/Albrechtstrasse and Cumberland-Haus. Franke Potente starts her run at the Trennen Palast, a location where people from the East and the West could see each other but not cross over. Behind the Russian Embassy is a wonderful swimming pool that still has Lenin’s head on it. Goodbye Lenin was filmed at Alexanderplatz and just down the street at the Hotel Adlon the children’s film Emil, the Detective was shot. At Bernauer Strasse Tunnel 28 was filmed. The title was chosen since 28 people managed to get to the other side. According to Heyl, the film doesn’t emphasis that over 200 people failed in their attempts and were killed.

Berlin has much to offer a directory from old Jewish cemeteries to the oldest airport in the world, as well as many architectural styles. A location tour is an interesting way to appreciate a film and dive a little deeper into the story of film making. Perhaps you, too, will recognize a local scene in a film. Also, seeing Berlin through the lens of a camera gives Berlin a different perspective. I sincerely hope that Volkswagen will continue to sponsor this tour in coming years so that other people will have the opportunity to see this city through the film director’s eye.

 Films shot in Berlin
Around the World in 80 Days
The Bourne Supremacy
Emil and the Detective
Goodbye Lenin!
One Two Three
Run Lola Run
Tunnel 28
Wings of Desire                           

 Other Berlin location films but not mention
Aime and Jaguar
Berlin Blues
Berlin Spring
Beyond Silence
Flight Plan
Faraway, so Close!
Grand Hotel
Herr Lehman
Melody of a GreatCity
Life is All You Get
Solo Sunny
Spider Web
Sun Alley
The Lives of Others
Tough Enough
What to Do in Case of a Fire
We the Children of Bahnhof Zoo