Movies in Berlin

One of the things I love about Berlin is its cinema scene. While there are multiplexes galore, there are also still many small independent cinemas and smaller chains keeping smaller cinemas in business. And then there are the open-air cinemas – Freiluftkino – which, truth be told, are one of my reasons for wanting to be here in the summer.

In our neighbourhood in Kreuzberg there are half a dozen cinemas within easy walking distance; of these, Babylon Kreuzberg and Moviemento play some films in English – “OMU” or “OV” in the listings, though you’ve gotta be careful because a French film “in the original version” probably means French with German subtitles. There’s also the Freiluftkino Kreuzberg (site of my first open air cinema experience, back in 2007; as it happens, located immediately behind the letterpress workshop I’ve been printing at, so very handy) and the Freiluftkino Hasenheide, a slightly longer walk, but worth it for its location and setup inside a massive city park.

As I’ve been trying to get a feel for what big city life is like, I’ve felt an obligation to attend as many movies as possible during our weeks here (based on the possibly-made-up assumption that this is what big city people do). Some of these I’ve seen with Oliver, some with Oliver and Catherine, and many by myself after they’ve gone to bed.

Our only misstep, if you can call it that, was when we went slightly further afield to Freiluftkino Insel to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: I’d neglected to notice that it was the dubbed-into-German version, but as we’d already made the trip we decided to stay, and if you leave out that Catherine had the uneasy experience of having a rat run between her legs (the cinema is in an abandoned rail yard that’s been reconceived as an “adult playground”), it was actually rather fun (it turns out that you don’t really need the dialogue for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to understand it).

For the record, here are the films I’ve seen:

  • Win Win
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • Beginners
  • Barney’s Version
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
  • Mary & Max
  • Four Lions
  • I’m Still Here

Additionally, Catherine and Oliver have seen The Zookeeper and Monte Carlo at the big Cinestar multiplex at Potsdamer Platz, which seems to play English-language movies almost exclusively, is very posh, but, alas, requires venturing into the antiseptic environs of Potsdamer Platz, Berlin’s “new downtown” full of glass and steel skyscrapers.

I’ve seen the trailers for more than a few German films that, I imagine, will never make it to Canada; most of them appear to be some variation on the theme “modern-day hippie arrives in rural German town and brings the villagers to life with his unusual outlook on life.”  Indeed I just looked up the plot description for one of these – Sommer in Orange – and it’s described as a “culture clash comedy about the clash of wild life in a Bavarian village and commune Bhagwan community,” so I think I got it right.


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