XIIDX day 11: Berlin on screen

As yesterday was centred on German film, I thought I’d team with a theme and rummage around my YouTube links to put together a subjective cinematic snapshot of my adoptive hometown.

From 1927, Sinfonie einer Großstadt (released as Berlin Symphony in the US), a brilliant, impressionistic documentary portrait of the city which captures the fragile, feverish optimism of the Weimar years:

Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, the last film Fritz Lang made before leaving Germany:

Germany Year Zero filmed in the post-war ruins by Roberto Rossellini:

A Foreign Affair, from whence comes Marlene Dietrich’s “Black Market” (“peek awound a corner…”):

More Billy Wilder: One, Two, Three, which was being made in 1961 as the Berlin Wall was going up (an event which had to be written into the film):

Hitchcock’s 1966 Cold War thriller Torn Curtain:

Next, Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire , which I first watched as a somewhat pretentious teenager. It informed my vision of Berlin years before I moved here and I re-watched it recently, curious to see if it stood up after all this time. I’m pleased to say it did; it remains a moving, poetic tribute to the city (though that Wall was clearly made up; it was nowhere to be seen when I arrived). Everything seemed to come together – script, locations, music, international cast and above all cinematography (and if you want to see how all of those elements can go comprehensively tits up you only need to see the over-long, over-wrought sequel Faraway, So Close!). I picked this scene because it’s set in the city’s main library, where I often do research. Almost a quarter of a century later it looks exactly the same, except everyone has laptops. And it’s not in black and white.

And finally, as a bookend to Sinfonie einer Großstadt, the documentary Berlin Babylon which scrutinises the process by which Berlin is becoming the world capital of architectural mediocrity:

About XIIDX, the Strange Flowers XII Days of Xmas Film Festival


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