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Berlin: City in the Movies

Posted February 19, 2010 to photo album "Berlin: City in the Movies"

Scott Macaulay clicks through the various characters this city has played.

Slide 1: Berlin - A City in Film
Slide 2: Metropolis - City of the Future
Slide 3: M - City of Fear
Slide 4: One, Two, Three - City of the West
Slide 5: Torn Curtain - City of Spies
Slide 6: Cabaret - City of Excess
Slide 7: Berlin Alexanderplatz - City of Consciousness
Slide 8: Christiane F - City of Drugs
Slide 9: Taxi zum Klo - City of Sex
Slide 10: Wings of Desire - City of Angels
Slide 11: Good Bye, Lenin - City of the East
Slide 2: Metropolis - City of the Future

Slide 2: Metropolis - City of the Future

One of cinema’s first visions of Berlin was, ironically, a distant one. Fritz Lang’s 1926 film Metropolis is set in a future industrialized vision of the city, where a scientist has built a robot that threatens to get rid of workers. The Berlin of Metropolis is one of giant clocks, massive factory edifices, and bursts of steam that shoot up the frame. Dismissed at the time by audiences and critics, including science fiction writer H.G. Wells who wrote that the film contained "almost every possible foolishness, cliché, platitude and muddlement about mechanical progress ... served up with a sauce of sentimentality that is all its own,” the film has lived on for the strength of its design ideas as well as the harsh poetry of its take on capitalism and worker struggle. It has also become an iconic film for the Berlin Film Festival, having been shown there seven times. This year, it was shown once more—in a specially restored, “uncut” version with 30 additional minutes. Commented critic David Thomson, who curated Berlin’s retrospective section this year, “Metropolis is not an easy film to explain, but the images never get out of our head.”