Berlin is among the most iconic and popular cities in the world. The culture, architecture and vast neighbourhoods not only make it one of Europe’s go-to tourist spots — but also the perfect backdrop to many films, so today I wanted to list some great (and not so great…) movies about Berlin and movies set in Berlin.
Berlin has a rich history of film and continually provides an idyllic setting for movies branching across a wide range of genres. Plus, it just so happens to be home to the European Film Academy. In this post, you’ll find a wide range of movies about Berlin and movies set in Berlin to provide you with the inspiration needed before a visit. And if you’re a Berlin resident, it’s always fun to spot your local area on the big screen.
Movies about Berlin to Watch (or not)
Run Lola Run (1998)
Run Lola Run is a classic ‘race against time’ style thriller in which our main character, Lola, has 20 minutes to find 100,000 DM (Deutsche Mark) — as her boyfriend lost the money he owes to a particularly nasty villain. Although this film isn’t the best on the list when it comes to showing off Berlin’s sights and sounds, you can still very much get a feel for the city. And it’s safe to say that films like this have paved the way for new generations of creative talent within the industry.
Wings of Desire (1987)
Wings of Desire tells the story of several invisible angels who wander around Berlin, helping and comforting some of the more distressed locals. The Oscar-nominated director Wim Wenders found success in both Europe and the US. In Wings of Desire, a combination of brilliant cinematography and a wealth of architecture and scenery demonstrates how beautiful the city of Berlin can look and feel.
In 2004’s ‘Downfall‘, Traudl Junge, one of the film’s senior writers and Hiter’s final secretary — yep, that’s actually true — unveils Hitler’s final days in a bunker at the end of WW2. There are more war movies set in Berlin (and Germany in general) than I’d be willing to count, but the powerful writing and first-hand experience with Hitler himself give this film a sense of authenticity that’s tough to rival. If you’re a history enthusiast or have a particular interest in World War II, this is a must-see!
Goodbye Lenin (2003)
In this reflection of 1989 East Berlin, our main character Alex is arrested while protesting against the regime. The distress of seeing this causes his mother to have a heart attack, and she falls into a coma. While in a coma, the Berlin wall has fallen, and her beloved East Berlin ceases to exist. When she wakes, to prevent trauma and shock, Alex — played by Daniel Brühl (Inglorious Basterds, Marvel’s Avengers) attempts to keep her in the dark by setting up a makeshift GDR within their shared flat. Find out more about Goodbye Lenin.
The Lives of Others (2006)
The Lives of Others tells the engaging and somewhat mysterious story of an officer within the East German Secret Police. He attends a play written by a playwright who, by all appearances, presents himself as the perfect loyal citizen. However, the officer isn’t convinced and decides to carry out surveillance on the writer and his lover. As the film goes on, the officer becomes more and more absorbed with their everyday goings-on and begins to care for the couple — even going so far as to intervene to help them from time to time.
Victoria is likely one of the most technically impressive films you will stumble upon. In its entirety, the film features one take, yes, one take. The movie was filmed around three times all the way through in one take, no cheats or discreet cuts — genius! It’s about a Spanish woman who recently moved to Berlin and a night that starts with harmless flirting, but this crime-thriller soon unfolds and reveals a more sinister narrative. Throughout its duration, Victoria shows us a great deal about Berlin, including its exciting nightlife, neighbourhoods, and culture.
Funeral in Berlin (1966)
It’s safe to say that Berlin is somewhat of a renowned location for the world of espionage and the spy-thriller genre, with spy films set in Berlin and no doubt many more to come. Funeral in Berlin tells the tale of a British spy (played by the legend Michael Caine) who is tasked with the mission of retrieving a potential defector in the hopes of gaining much-needed intel about the East Germany regime. Things don’t exactly go according to plan, and there are so many twists along the way—an excellent watch for classic film fans and spy movie enthusiasts.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne Supremacy is the second film in a franchise that became and is still considered one of the most incredible action/spy/thriller works in film history. In this film, we see Jason Bourne return to Berlin to piece together his past, which is now a blur thanks to significant amnesia. This is among the best movies about Berlin. The audience gets to see a great deal of the city — with notable filming locations including Alexanderplatz, Palais am Funkturm, The Westin Grand Berlin, Walter-Benjamin-Platz, Haus des Rundfunks & Großer Sendesaal.
Berlin Syndrome (2017)
While on vacation in Berlin, Australian photojournalist Clare meets a charismatic local man, Andi — and there is an immediate attraction. Unfortunately, what appears to be a blossoming romance takes a shocking, sinister twist when Clare wakes up to realise Andi has gone to work and she is locked in the apartment. However, this is no simple mistake — Andi has absolutely no intention of letting her go, ever. Berlin Syndrome is definitely one of the must-see movies about Berlin for horror and thriller fans!
One, Two, Three (1961)
One, Two, Three is one of the more unique movies about Berlin. Not necessary because of what the film is, but more because of what it became. This film is a comedy about a Coca-Cola executive tasked with taking care of his boss’ socialite daughter, but it soon became a real-time documentation of a crucial moment in history. The Berlin Wall just started its construction when the film was being shot, so the director (Billy Wilder) and his team made the brilliant decision to include the construction as a part of the film’s story. Therefore, this makes it funny, but also an important moment for films set in Berlin.
Chasing Liberty (2004)
In Chasing Liberty, Anna Foster is the most protected girl in America; she is the First Daughter. Anna makes a deal with her overprotective father, the President of the United States of America — only two agents are allowed to guard her while she goes to Prague for a concert. Drama ensues when her father backs out of his promise and Anna goes on the run with Ben — a photographer she meets outside of the club. They travel together to the Love Parade in Berlin. Anna knows very little about Ben, but the viewer soon learns that he is under orders from Anna’s father to guard her — but he didn’t intend to fall in love!
Er ist Wieder da! (2015)
Adolf Hitler wakes up in Berlin, but the year is 2014. After familiarising himself with his surroundings, he is soon discovered by a TV producer, Fabian Sawatzki. Fabian assumes Hitler is an actor or dramatic performance artist and decides to take him on a tour of the country to interact with the public for a TV show. However, for Hitler, this is an ideal opportunity to regain power and popularity. Er Ist Wieder Da’s comedic take on Adolf Hitler does well to entertain viewers while treading carefully on the line between humour and offending people.
Aeon Flux (2005)
Set a little under 400 years in the future, Aeon Flux is a mysterious assassin who resides in 2415’s city of Bregna. While it is a fictionalised utopian city, the architecture and design of the city is Berlin through-and-through. In fact, it’s a very creative and imaginative look at what a city like Berlin could look like in centuries to come! Aeon is tasked with assassinating the ruler of Bregna, but it’s not as simple as it seems — secrets, conspiracies and plot twists soon ensue!
Oh Boy (A Coffee in Berlin) (2012)
Oh Boy (A Coffee in Berlin) is a very sobering and thought-provoking film where we see a young man who has dropped out of university, wandering the streets of Berlin attempting to make sense of his life and find his place within the city where he lives. Unlike many of the other movies about Berlin on this list, this is a movie many people can relate to and have likely gone through the same emotions. Aside from this, we also get to see Berlin from an everyday person’s point of view. Not a spy, not a war hero, just a man in a city trying to work out what to do in life. It’s down to earth, it’s authentic, and it shows the heart of Berlin. At its core, this is more than a movie set in Berlin, it’s one of those movies about Berlin — a more personal look at the city and the people that reside here.
Berlin I Love You (2019)
Do I love Berlin? Absolutely. Do I love this film about Berlin? Not so much, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Berlin I Love You is Berlin’s instalment to the Cities I Love series (Paris, Je t’aime / New York, I Love You / Rio, Eu Te Amo) and consists of ten romantic stories within Berlin. With so many varied stories being told, this film shows you a great deal of the city with characters from many different walks of life. If you’re a romantic who has an interest in movies set in Berlin, you may want to check it out!
Are you planning on visiting Berlin in the near or distant future? Check out my other blog posts about Berlin to learn as much as possible before you arrive!