Berlin for movie buffs – ProLimo’s top 20 Berlin movies

What do you do when you’re back home from a trip to Berlin but still haven’t gotten your fill of this city? We’ve compiled the ultimate list of movies that help you recover your ‘Berlin feeling’ at home. They are listed by release date.

1. Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis

Germany 1927, directed by Walter Ruttmann

This experimental documentary film, which is arranged like a symphony, shows a day in the city of Berlin in 1927. Still impressive today, it reveals what Berlin looked like before WWII broke out.


2. M – A city looks for a murderer

Germany 1931, directed by Fritz Lang, starring Peter Lorre

One of the best-known works in German film making. Peter Lorre portrays a murdering sex offender in 1930s Berlin.


3. Germany, Year Zero

Italy 1948, directed by Roberto Rossellini

The Summer of 1947 in bombed out Berlin. Grandiose film by Roberto Rossellini, in which a 12-year-old is responsible for the livelihood of his family


4. A Foreign Affair

USA 1948, directed by Billy Wilder, starring Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich and John Lund. At the piano: Friedrich Hollaender

Perhaps one of Billy Wilder’s best comedies. Poignant love triangle involving an American congresswoman, an officer of the U.S. occupying forces and the wonderful Marlene Dietrich who plays a German nightclub singer.


5. One, Two, Three

USA 1961, directed by Billy Wilder, starring James Cagney and Horst Buchholz

In the middle of the Cold War, shortly before the Berlin Wall is erected, the head of Coca-Cola sends his daughter to West Berlin where she immediately falls in love with a communist from East Berlin. James Cagney portrays a local Coca-Cola executive in a fast-paced and brilliant screwball comedy.


6. The spy who came in from the Cold

United Kingdom 1965, directed by Martin Ritt, starring Richard Burton and Oscar Werner

One of the all time best spy thrillers takes place where East meets West, namely in the shadows of the Berlin Wall. Impressive masterpiece about the horrors of the Cold War.


7. Cabaret

USA 1972, directed by Bob Fosse, starring Liza Minelli

Cabaret, which is set in Berlin in 1931 – shortly before the Nazis seized power – is considered the best ever film-musical by many. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin, it won 8 Oscars.


8. Top Secret!

USA 1984, directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, starring Val Kilmer

This is how Americans imagined the Cold War to be like in East Germany. A fast-paced parody and a firework of gags, this film toys with the viewing habits of the audience. With Omar Sharif as an unfortunate spy named Cedric.


9. Wings of Desire

Germany 1987, directed by Wim Wenders, starring Bruno Ganz, Curt Bois and Otto Sander

Poetic drama about two angels in the divided city of Berlin in 1987. This award-winning film by Wim Wenders (remake 1998: City of Angels) features Peter Falk and Nick Cave in supporting roles.


10. Run Lola Run

Germany 1998, directed by Tom Tykwer, starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu

Lola has 20 minutes to procure 100.000 DM to save her friend. In this high-speed action film, she runs through the streets of Berlin and lives through these 20 minutes three times in a time loop. Each time, small coincidences lead to a different outcome.


11. Good Bye Lenin!

Germany 2003, directed by Wolfgang Becker, starring Daniel Brühl and Katrin Sass

An East Berlin resident who is loyal to the party line slips into a coma shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. She wakes up 8 months later in a completely changed country. To go easy on her weak heart, her children decide to pretend that East Germany still exists.


12. Downfall

Germany 2004, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Bruno Ganz

Adolf Hitler’s last days in the Führer bunker in Berlin in April of 1945. Bruno Ganz is marvelous in the role of the Führer.

13. The Tunnel

Germany 2001, directed by Roland Suso Richter, starring Heino Ferch and Alexandra Maria Lara (English subtitles)

This movie is based on a true story about a group of young escape helpers in West Berlin. After the Berlin Wall was built, they dug a tunnel so that their families could escape from East to West Berlin.


14. The Lives of the Others

Germany 2008, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, starring Ulrich Mühe and Martina Gedeck

While conducting a surveillance operation targeting a free-spirited artist couple, a Stasi agent who toes the party line increasingly gets caught up in their lives. He has to make up his mind what is more important – the state or the lives of the others. In 2006, this movie won an Oscar in the category ‘Best Foreign Movie’.


15. Berlin Calling

Germany 2008, directed by Hannes Stöhr, starring DJ Paul Kalkbrenner (English subtitles)

Owing to excessive drug use, techno DJ Ickarus finds himself in a downward spiral and winds up being sectioned. Realistic film about Berlin‘s club and techno scene that introduces viewers to the culture of electronic music.


16. Valkyrie

USA & Germany 2008, directed by Bryan Singer, starring Tom Cruise

In this film, Tom Cruise plays Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. In an effort to end World War II, this German colonel attempted a coup – along with a military group – and tried to kill Hitler with a bomb on 20 July 1944. Partly filmed at the original Bendlerblock location in what is now the German Resistance Memorial Center.


17. A coffee in Berlin

Germany 2012, directed by Jan-Ole Gerstner, starring Tom Schilling

Twenty-four hours in the life of a young man in Berlin. This is the kind of story that could take place in Berlin-Kreuzberg or Berlin-Neukölln at any day.


18. Bridge of Spies

USA 2015, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance

Partly film at Tempelhof Airport and Glienicker Bridge, this film by Steven Spielberg is about the legendary spy exchange on 10 February 1962 involving the Russian spy Rudolph Abel and U2 pilot Gary Francis Powers, who had been shot down over the Soviet Union.


19. Victoria

Germany 2015, directed by Sebastian Schipper, starring Laia Costa

Filmed in real time in a single shot: A young Spanish woman moves to Berlin and meets upon four authentic Berliners, parties with them, falls in love and accompanies them on a bank robbery. A cinematically-sensational ride through Berlin by night.


20. B-Movie – Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989

Germany 2015, directed by Jörg A. Hoppe, starring Mark Reeder

A Brit shows up in West Berlin in the early 1980s. Also featuring the group ‘Einstürzenden Neubauten’, Nick Cave, Joy Division, Keith Haring and Nena.

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