A few weeks ago Charlotte surprised me with a birthday trip to Berlin for three days. As he wasn't touring to Manchester, and seeing as flying to Berlin would cost the same as a train to London, the idea was to catch a Joshua Radin gig while we were there. We have friends living in Berlin that were kind enough to put us up, and we had a brilliant break away from the norm. Charlotte’s blog covers the break we had in all its foody glory, but there were a few bits where we went that had a certain filmy flavour too.
If you’re not aware of Joshua Radin, you have probably heard some of his acoustic folk over the top of that sad bit at the end of every Scrubs episode. I’ve been a big fan for years now, but it was a weird experience seeing him in another country. The venue looked like a converted theatre or cinema, and that added to the chilled atmosphere. The day after we went to Berlin’s Film Museum in Potsdamer Platz. If you have never been, Potsdamer Platz is a stunning looking modern build with Sony offices and a modern cinema. They were actually preparing for a premier of German language Netflix original series, You Are Wanted, in the centre when we went too. Although the Film Museum takes up quite a few floors of the buildings there, we almost came across it by accident. While we’re no German film history buffs, it turned out to be one of the most brilliantly laid out museums I’ve ever been in. It took us on a journey from Fritz Lang to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1929), from Marlene Dietrich to the exile of German filmmakers during WWII, and the innovative portrayals of sport documentary to modern films such as Run Lola Run (1998) and The Lives of Others (2006). We made that journey via disorientating floors or mirrors, miniature film sets, costumes and movie clips. That alone was enough, but it was then that we came across the exhibit on at the time: Science Fiction Film.
We weren’t aware this was the theme of the exhibit when we paid to go in, but it was easily the best thing about the whole trip. When you immediately recognise Tom Cruise’s costume and jacket from War of the Worlds (2005) when you enter, you know this the exhibit for you. Different rooms focused on a specific aspect of the Sci-Fi genre. There was the alien portayls themselves, spacecraft and control pit design, dystopian futures, alien contact and how different films tackle each of those. One minute you could be watching multiple clips of characters first touching down on a foreign planet. The next, you could be lying back on a table looking up at a screen on the ceiling showing John Hurt being held down as his chest bursts apart. One room showed multiple clips of varying perspectives on AI in cinema, while another played varying uses of the countdown before a spacecraft takeoff (including Fritz Lang’s 1929, Woman in the Moon – the first film to use this technique to build anticipation). I had recently been reading about certain signifiers in genres, and how they are required to made it clear to the audience what type of film they are watching (or at least, think they’re watching), so it was fascinating to see Sci-Fi broken down in to its multiple parts. The contrast between how those moments, or things have been done across the years was really interesting. It could not have been more nerdy, but the whole experience was do really well and made it completely immersive. Hopefully we’ll be looking to go to Berlin again at some point, and I’ll be pushing to go to this museum again just to see the latest exhibit.
Later that day we went well out of our way to find Café Einstein as it was there that Quentin Tarantino filmed the strudel scene in Inglourious Basterds (2009). As we hadn’t seen the film in ages we quickly watched the clip of that particular scene back on my phone before we went in. We could recognise the decor straight away, and as good the strudel I got was, it didn't come with a dollop of Christoph Waltz's "crème."