Since I have been here in Berlin I have been learning so much about the history of the city and exploring the different monuments and pieces of the wall, and realised that what could be cool to put some of this into perspective would be to watch a few movies that feature the city as a character or setting! Thanks to my mom’s help, I started with Wings of Desire, and then went a different route and watched The Man From UNCLE.
Wings of Desire is about two angels who watch over Berlin in the late 80’s before the wall comes down. My mom has been trying to convince me to watch this for the past few months, and last week I finally gave in, and of course loved it. Without giving too much away, the angels basically wander around the city, observing heartbreak, love, depression, and listening to Berliners thoughts and feelings. They are unseen to other humans, but other angels can observe them and they can communicate with one another. Rather than looking as we typically imagine angels to look, they are simply people with long hair who enjoy wearing long coats and leisurely walking around the city. It is beautifully shot, encapsulating much of what I understand about the era, and added to my understanding of life behind the wall. While it is hard to explain more without giving away the entire premise of the film, Nick Cave who I really love, is seen throughout, and his music is also a character on its own. The entire film is a commentary on mortality and immortality, vision and beauty, and is at its heart a romance both between characters and the city of Berlin. I would HIGHLY recommend it to all, both those who have or are thinking of visiting Berlin, and anyone who just needs a good movie to watch!
The Man From UNCLE in contrast is an action movie and spy thriller, set in the 1960s, shortly after the wall went up. While Berlin is only the backdrop for the first bit of the movie, we see Berlin in a different light, and witness the tension of the time more so than the individuals living within it. It is a really fun movie, and I love anything with Armie Hammer so that immediately adds to the experience. It doesn’t give a full picture of the city at the time, but I did recognize certain things like where checkpoint Charlie is, and being able to see a recreation of crossing into East Berlin from the West was interesting on its own!
I think both movies are worth watching for different reasons, and hopefully I can find things to watch about Prague and Krakow next!