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Berlin as seen in the movies

There is no denying it, Berlin is a very photographic city and the film industry loves to come here. So much so that many a movie is either set in the city and/or films there. From old silent movies to more recent cinematic masterpieces and from Hollywood blockbusters to European arthouse films, there is nothing quite like it to get you in the mood for a trip to Germany’s capital city.

Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday), 1930

This is one of two silent movies that immortalised Berlin on screens, the other being Berlin: Symphony of a Great City. Menschen am Sonntag portrays a normal Sunday in Berlin in the 1920s. The film was cast with non-professional actors and shot with hidden camera’s to truly capture everyday live in Berlin. This film features sights such as the Bahnhof Zoo, Nikolassee and the Wannsee.

One, Two, Three, 1961Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

This slapstick comedy from the same director as Menschen am Sonntag, Billy Wilder, was filmed during the building of the Berlin Wall. Production on this satire of the conflict between East and West Berlin even had to be halted for a time due to the construction of the wall. In order to complete filming the crew had to rebuild the Brandenburg Gate.

The film is a funny but reasonably realistic view of this troubled time for the city and a must-see for those who want to learn more about this time in its history. Other than the Brandenburg Gate, the film shows the Kurfürstendamm, Tempelhof airport and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Octopussy, 1983

For years Berlin was a hive of Cold War espionage, that makes a movie about the world’s most famous spy a must-have on this list. In this film Bond moves between India and Germany as he hunts down another criminal mastermind.

The film features an appearance from Checkpoint Charlie, which at the time was still an active checkpoint between East and West Berlin and the only one that could be used by foreigners and members of the Allied forces. Bond uses it to cross from van West to East.

Good Bye Lenin!, 2003

Nominated for a Golden Globe as well as a BAFTA, this film looks at the changes the city went through after the fall of the Berlin Wall as Alex, the main character, attempts to hide the reunification from his mother – a staunch acolyte of the GDR – who has just awakened from a coma.

Almost all of the film was shot in what was once East Berlin. Frequently the film comes to Karl-Marx-Allee, a broad boulevard which cuts through the Friedrichshain and Mitte neighbourhoods. The street, which is almost 2 kilometres long, is flanked by socialist-era buildings and remains to this day an architectural echo of the Cold War.

Alexanderplatz tram

Lola rennt (Run Lola Run), 1998

The title of this film tells you a lot about it. As Lola, the main character, runs through a post reunification Berlin in three alternative realities in an attempt to save her boyfriend from being killed. The film is a clear departure from the many Cold War movies that were set in Berlin and shows the brightness of the reunified city in the late 90s.

As Lola runs, the viewer sees a lot of sights in Berlin, from her flat on Albertstrasse in Mitte, to the Deutsche Oper U-bahn station in Charlottenburg where her boyfriend is arrested and the Oberbaumbrücke crossing the River Spree.

The Bourne Supremacy, 2004

The Bourne franchise has spend a lot of time in the German capital, even having the city impersonate Moscow on a few occasions. Modern Berlin is a fitting backdrop to this spy movie franchise due to its cold war past. Most of the second film is actually set in the city itself, where Bourne chases the CIA to find answers to his past. Throughout the film various locations are featured, including the Zoologischer Garten train station, the River Spree, Alexanderplatz, the Messedamm and Ostbahnhof.