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World Film Locations: Berlin

World Film Locations: Berlin

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World Film Locations: Berlin

249 pagine
1 ora
Apr 18, 2013


One of the most dynamic capital cities of the twenty-first century, Berlin also has one of the most tumultuous modern histories. A city that came of age, in many senses, with the cinema, it has been captured on film during periods of exurberance, devastation, division, and reconstruction. World Film Locations: Berlin offers a broad overview of these varied cinematic representations.Covering an array of films that ranges from early classics to contemporary star vehicles, this volume features detailed analyses of forty-six key scenes from productions shot on location across the city as well as spotlight essays in which contributors with expertise in German studies, urban history, and film studies focus on issues central to understanding Berlin film, such as rubble, construction sites, and music, and controversial film personalities from Berlin, such as Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. With the help of full-color illustrations that include film stills and contemporary location shots, World Film Locations: Berlin cinematically maps the city’s long twentieth century, taking readers behind the scenes and shedding new light on the connections between many favorite and possibly soon-to-be-favorite films.
Apr 18, 2013

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World Film Locations - Intellect Books Ltd



City of the Imagination


CINEMA’S INVENTION at the end of the nineteenth century came at a good time for Berlin. The city’s rollercoaster ride through the twentieth and now on into the twenty-first could thus be captured on celluloid, video, and, more recently, digitally. In this volume we see the city transform from an upstart industrial metropolis, capital of a warmongering imperial nation, to an economically ravaged one with the collapse and chaos that followed the loss of World War I. This in turn led to its crazy, glitzy Weimar heyday during the 1920s; the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich; the pummelling the city received at the end of World War II by Allied bombers that left it decimated and divided among the French, British, American and Soviet occupying forces, a division which took concrete form from 13 August 1961 to 9 November 1989. With the fall of the Wall, Berlin regained its status as capital and has been a construction site ever since, one increasingly present globally in no small part due to its booming film industry and glamorous international film festival.

Despite being a city whose only constant has been rapid, disorienting change – a city, as Karl Scheffler’s 1910 bon mot has it, ‘condemned forever to become and never to be’ – Berlin from the perspective of its cinematic history seems to be a remarkably stable place. Sites and even characters return decades later, bearing the memories of their earlier appearances. The youthful suicide in Rossellini’s 1948 Germania, anno zero/Germany Year Zero is an homage to the one in the socially critical Kuhle Wampe (Slátan Dudow, 1932) that results in ‘one worker fewer’, and makes viewers appreciate all the more the resolve of the young girl in Ostkreuz (Michael Klier, 1991); the clown Emil Janning is reduced to playing in Der blaue Engel/The Blue Angel (Josef von Sternberg, 1930) reappears in a spy’s disguise at the beginning of Octopussy (John Glen, 1983), the only James Bond film shot in Berlin; the Neukölln swimming pool, which proves decisive to the spy-protagonist in his quest for neo-Nazis in The Quiller Memorandum (Michael Anderson, 1966), returns appropriately outfitted with a swastika in Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, 2008); the pedestrian bridge over the Ringbahn that Sunny crosses in Solo Sunny (Konrad Wolf and Wolfgang Kohlhaase, 1980) is the same one the son jogs over in Sommer vorm Balkon/Summer in Berlin (Andreas Dresen, 2005). Places like Alexanderplatz and Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag, the Olympic Stadium and Zoo Station recur from one decade to the next, sometimes the better, sometimes the worse for wear but nevertheless anchoring and lending historical texture to Berlin’s urban fabric.

Funeral in Berlin (1966)

Kobal / Above © 2010 Celluloid Dreams, Constantin Film Produktion, Rat Pack Filmproduktion

The durability of cinematic Berlin could well have something to do with the city’s mediality. Spaces long since destroyed endure in older films and are reconstructed and re-signified in newer ones and by new technologies. With each technological innovation we re-imagine our relationship with the city and its spaces. The Skladanowskys’ camera was the first to do this, while iPhone apps and GPSs are the most recent, making the history of Berlin film implicitly also a history of technology. Thanks to online services like Google maps and Flickr, it has become easy to find out, for example, how close the Glienicke Brücke, the bridge which the young woman throws the money from in Unter den Brücken/Under the Bridges (Helmut Käutner, 1944), is to the Jagdschloß Glienicke, the hunting lodge where the remake of Mädchen in Uniform/Girls in Uniform (Géza von Radványi, 1958) was filmed. Such a search also reveals their proximity to Studio Babelsberg.

We are the Night (2010)

Cinematic Berlin is a place of great liquidity, both literal and figurative. Water is a subtle presence, whether in swimming pools, lakes (from the Tegeler See in the north to the Großer Wannsee in the southwest and the Großer Müggelsee in the southeast), the Landwehrkanal and the Spree. Keeping one’s head above water provides a great deal of narrative impetus.

Cinematic Berlin is a place of great liquidity, both literal and figurative. Water is a subtle presence, in swimming pools, lakes, the Landwehrkanal and the Spree.

What does cinematic Berlin look like? Initially, it was a place of great (com)motion with a focus on the hustle and bustle of the street. Hitler’s attempt to metamorphose it into monumentality was spectacularly unsuccessful, with the Olympic Stadium his only real success. Reconstruction during the post-war period established a certain canon of buildings between the train station at Zoologischer Garten and the elegant shopping allée of Kurfürstendamm as representative of the city, most prominently the bomb-damaged tower of the Gedächtniskirche and the Europa Centre with its rotating Mercedes star. Then, of course, there was the Wall. Since reunification, film-makers have tended to either seek out locations off the beaten tourist track, such as the supermarket in Lola Rennt/Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998), the balcony in Sommer vorm Balkon/Summer in Berlin (Andreas Dresen, 2005), the Teufelsberg spy station in Wir sind die Nacht/We are the Night (Dennis Gansel, 2010) and the abandoned amusement park in Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011), or they have gone for sites of historical ignobility like the headquarters of the Wehrmacht officers (the so-called Benderblock) in Valkyrie (Bryan Singer, 2008) and the Stasi headquarters in Das Leben der Anderen/The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006).




Wilhelmine Cinema in Berlin

SPANNING THE PERIOD from the ‘beginnings’ of cinema in 1895−96 to the first feature length films in the 1910s, Wilhelmine Cinema borrows its name from Kaiser Wilhelm II and is defined by his rule from the last decade of the nineteenth century to World War I. It merges technological ingenuity and entertainment, manifests wide stylistic, formal and genre variations, and provides a broad scope of exhibition practices. Invariably, the Wilhelmine period is put against what followed – Weimar cinema as the canonical period of early German film, and is often referred to as the pre-Caligari moment, as an insecure preparatory phase, or in the words of Paolo Cherchi Usai and Lorenzo Codelli as the terra incognita of early German cinema.

As the imperial capital, an explosive industrial metropolis and entertainment centre, Berlin contains the imprints of Wilhelmine film culture. The German capital was not the sole destination for cinema. Films travelled locally and were screened at a wide variety of venues outside of Berlin: fairgrounds, markets and variety shows. But it was Berlin that attracted big industry, concentrated population (close to two million at the turn of the twentieth century), and served as a stage for both imperial parades and for an expanding entertainment culture.

Wilhelmin Cinema interior

Hans Schliepmann, Lichtspieltheater: Eine Sammlung ausgeführter Kinohäuser in Groß-Berlin (Berlin, Ernst Wasmuth, 1914)

Berlin was the home of the film pioneers Skladanowsky, who developed the Bioscope projection apparatus. The Skladanowskys competed with the French Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe but lacked the technical versatility, financial backing, and marketing foresight to reach the world popularity of their French counterparts. Initially exhibiting in the Café Feldschlößchen (which later became the popular Tivoli Cinema) in the Pankow neighbourhood in the north of Berlin, and on 1 November 1895 moving to the Wintergarten on Friedrichstraße in the city centre, the Skladanowskys exhibited moving pictures of a boxing kangaroo, folk dances from Italy and Russia, horse dressage, a juggler,

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