Movies About Berlin

Movies About Berlin

With so much history and culture in the same city, it is perhaps no surprise that there are so many movies about the capital of Germany.

Berlin has provided the backdrop, and been the main feature, for dramas, Cold War spy thrillers, and tense films around the collapse of the Berlin Wall and East Germany. 

There are so many films centered around the Cold War that you can be sure features at least one scene in Berlin.

Here we will look at several movies about the city of Berlin.

Good Bye, Lenin!

Released In 2003

Before he became Baron Zemo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daniel Brühl starred in Good Bye, Lenin!

Brühl is one of Germany’s most celebrated actors and the film can be loosely described as a tragic comedy.

The plot concerns a mother who falls into a coma in what was then East Germany, though she does not know that the Berlin Wall is about to come crashing down. 

The film itself can be seen to tackle some of the issues around German unification, by largely ignoring them and creating humor out of the situation.

As the mother is a passionate East German socialist, the reunification (Wende) of Berlin, and Germany, passes her by as she’s still in the coma. 

Concerned, her son goes to extreme lengths to make the world seem like East Germany exactly as she remembers it when she wakes up a few months later.

Pretty much the entire film was shot in what was East Berlin and makes for some hilarious viewing.

The Lives Of Others

Released In 2006

One film set firmly in the Cold War is The Lives of Others.

The film took a deep drive into the Stasi-ridden Berlin of 1984 and remains one of Germany’s most fascinating contemporary films about its communist past.

Like Good Bye, Lenin! the film was set in East Germany and the director, Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, even gained permission to film in what was the Stasi Archives.

For a tense Cold War drama, few films can beat how claustrophobic the climate was with civilians spying on each other and personal vendettas coming to the fore.

The Lives of Others depicted life in the GDR so accurately and so honestly that it earned several awards.

Even more impressive considering that von Donnersmark was barely a teenager when the Berlin Wall came down. 

Atomic Blonde

Released In 2017

The Cold War in Berlin is also the backdrop to Atomic Blonde, an action film interlocked with the spy games that were played out at the time.

While the landmarks from that era are included, it is the neon-drenched nightclubs that give an impression of Berlin in the late Eighties, shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. 

The film is based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City with Charlize Theron playing the lead role as a spy who has a mission to find the list of double agents.

Time is ticking as they could all make their way into the West and cause havoc.

Directed by David Leitch, who also directed Deadpool 2, the film does a fine job of using Berlin for its action scenes.



Released In 2015

You have to see Victoria simply to remark on how impressive an entire film from a single take can be.

That’s right, no edits in a depiction of a few hours spent mainly in the suburb of Mitte, which is near U-Stadtmitte.

In the film, a young Spanish girl comes into contact with four mysterious men on a night out in the city when she leaves a club at 4 am.

Upon meeting the men, they take a walk through early morning Berlin, steal some alcohol from a shop, then drink and smoke some marijuana on a roof. 

Over the course of a few interactions, she is roped into a bank robbery.

Directed by Sebastian Schipper, the film took more than one attempt to lock it in and the eventual release was the third and final one.

Even though only the Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods are featured, the film does well to show the city’s modern nightlife and club scene. 

Bridge Of Spies

Released In 2015

Even Steven Spielberg has helmed a historical drama about Berlin during the Cold War.

Starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, this is another film involving East Berlin.

Specifically, an exchange of a Soviet KGB spy held by the United States and a US Air Force pilot who was shot down in a U-2 spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

The bridge in question is the Glienicke Bridge which connects Berlin with Potsdam. 

This is another film celebrated for its accuracy and was an international co-production between Germany and the United States.

The film did well at the box office and garnered six Academy Award nominations including Best Original Screenplay and, notably, Best Picture. 

For his depiction of a convicted Soviet KGB spy, the film won Mark Rylance an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

If you ever wondered what Berlin was like in the depths of winter then this is the tense, historical drama for you.  

Final Thoughts

As a fascinating city in its own right, Berlin can become an enviable backdrop for a drama.

Not only does the city’s history help to bring some depth to a film but the basis of the Cold War can become a feature itself.

Films like Good Bye Lenin! and The Lives of Others were largely shot in East Berlin to help depict what life was like in the Cold War.

There are also films such as Victoria and Atomic Blonde that showcase the city’s nightlife too. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Oscar-Winning German Films On Streaming Services?

Yes, The Lives of Others (translated in German to Das Leben der Anderen) won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 79th Academy Awards in 2007.

As a tense Cold War thriller, the film asks questions of morality when individuals are asked to spy on each other. 

Are Any Marvel Films Filmed In Germany?

Yes, for its depiction of a split between ideals, it should come as no surprise that Berlin was one of the locations used in Captain America: Civil War.

When the plot features the United Nations general assembly, the Sony Center in Berlin was used which is next to Potsdamer Platz.  

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