February in town, time for Berlinale! Film critics, movie buffs, and tabloids focus their attention on Berlin when filmmakers, actors, and hollywood stars will be treading on one another’s pradas on the red carpet at Potsdamer Platz. Starting on February 9, 2017, the 67th International Berlin Film Festival will pack a punch again, with world premieres and lots of surprises. The German capital makes for the perfect setting once again – though: not only around the cinema, but also on the silver screen. As a film set, the city on the Spree is highly regarded by directors from Hollywood all the way to Babelsberg; and has been turned into other cities like London or Moscow more than once. Many a famous movie scene has been shot right in the city centre of Berlin, and the sites are usually public places. We from Industriepalast Hostel love movies, and we love the city. So we took the “trouble” of creating a little Berlin film location tour for you – with a little surprise towards the end, so stay tuned!
one: Messedamm: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
Action! We start our little journey through the cinematic world of Berlin in the far west of the capital at metro station Messedamm/ICC. Or, to be more precise, the pedestrian underpass nearby. This is where some important scenes of a real blockbuster were shot: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 2 is the last part of the successful film series. Much of it was filmed in Germany, numerous scenes in Berlin. A memorable one is the breathtaking pursuit through orange-tiled tunnels in the underground of “the Capitol”. How to find those tunnels? Do the Jennifer Lawrence and run like crazy through the metro station’s underpass – there you go.
two: Gendarmenmarkt: Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
Not far from metro station Messedamm is a subway station named Kaiserdamm. Enter subway U2 and get off at Hausvogteiplatz, right next to one of the city’s most popular sights: Gendarmenmarkt. The splendorous classicist structures surrounding the historic square make it a fantastic film set, that much is obvious. Thus it is no surprise that numerous film scenes were shot here. One stands out though, due to its significance for Berlin as a film location: Around the World in 80 Days starring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan has the two heroes take down on the stairs right in front of London’s Royal Academy – or, more precisely: the Concert Hall on Gendarmenmarkt. Through the camera lense Berlin apparently looked more like Victorian London than the original, so the producers unceremoniously turned the French Church into the “Bank of England” and added the Big Ben during post-production. The positive experience during the production of this film put Berlin on the landscape of Hollywood directors, resulting in a multiplication of international film productions in town. Although, to be fair, Berlin did appear in international productions before, as in…
three: Checkpoint Charlie: Octopussy (1983)
…1983’s Octopussy. At the height of the Cold War, the most famous secret agent of the world, James Bond a.k.a. 007 a.k.a. Roger Moore, is being smuggled over the heavily protected border of the GDR. And where else should that have happened then at the most iconic border crossing, Checkpoint Charlie ? Today it’s one of the capital’s classic attractions with the old border post hut still in place. The neighborhood has certainly changed since the 80s, but with a little bit of fantasy you might still be able to feel the cold chill of the spy thriller’s dark times. Take a quick walk there from Gendarmenmarkt (5 minutes) and get a photo with the border guards in historic uniforms, before heading on down Friedrichstraße – film set for the 2015 indie sensation Victoria – all the way to subway station Hallesches Tor.
four: Weltrestaurant Markthalle: Berlin Blues (2003)
Board U1 and let it take you to Görlitzer Bahnhof, from where it is just a 5 minute stroll to Weltrestaurant Markthalle. Not only is this a great place to treat yourself to some wiener schnitzel with potato salad and a draft beer; you might actually end up feeling like one of the most likeable figures of film history: Herr Lehmann (“Mister Lehmann”) from Berlin Blues. Author and singer/songwriter Sven Regener created this Kreuzberg-based Anti-hero for the novel of the same name that was later turned into a film starring Christian Ulmen. Hier at Markthalle Herr Lehmann orders roast pork for breakfast, falls in love with the beautiful cook Katrin, and talks away the morning pondering about drunken time and sober time, and which of the two passes more quickly. By the way – Berlin Blues is one of our ten favorite Berlin Films .
five: Oberbaumbrücke: Run Lola Run (1998)
Which leads us to just another real Berlin movie: Run Lola Run from 1998 starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu is often considered an early masterpiece by German director Tom Tykwer and one of the most important German films of all times. Lola races through the same story thrice, each time with a different outcome. She rushes through the streets of Berlin, and, repeatedly, across famous Oberbaumbrücke. From Markthalle it’s a nice little walk to the red clinker bridge. Cross the river using the iconic colonnade, passing buskers, street art, and a hint of last night’s urine. Here you can get a nose full of Berlin that no silver screen can offer.
sechs: Karl-Marx-Allee: The Lives of Others (2006) & Good Bye, Lenin! (2001)
Once you’ve made it to the other side of the river, get onboard the tram and 10 minutes later you’re at Frankfurter Tor on the eastern end of Karl-Marx-Allee. The GDR’s flagship avenue hasn’t changed much since the wall came down, so it made for the perfect setting of two well-known films about this time: Good Bye, Lenin from 2001 and the German Oscars sensation The Lives of Others from 2006. The further you walk down the avenue towards Alexanderplatz, the more original film locations you will find: Karl Marx Bookstore, Café Moskau, Kino International – Soviet-inspired lifeworlds.
By now, you are close to the end of our little film tour of the German capital. Turn around and head back the way you came all the way to Warschauer Straße to find the last stop of our tour:
seven: Industriepalast Hostel Berlin: Unfinished Business (2014)
Wait a second – that is where you are staying in Berlin, not a film set! Is it not? It is! Because this is, where parts of the comedy film Unfinished Business were shot. Hollywood stars Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco play some young businessmen with serious foot-in-mouth disease who get caught up in the jungle of the party hotspot Berlin. A number of scenes were shot in the rooms, the lobby, and the bar of our hostel – if you know the movie by heart you won’t have a hard time recognizing them.
By the way: If you feel like visiting even more famous film locations in the capital with maximum comfort, check out the video bus tour “Movie City Berlin – The Rolling Cinema” every second Saturday of each month. At 23€ admission the bus will take you to many a famous film set while you can watch the corresponding scenes on screen from your seat. Find out more on their website.
We look forward to hosting you on the world’s greatest film set – Berlin!
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.