7 Days in Berlin (pt. 4 of 4)
Friday, November 14th
Last Day in Berlin
So, for our last day, we decided to all split up. Anastasia and I wanted to go to the Museum für Film und Fersehen (Berlin’s Film and Television Museum), so the guys decided to go visit the Pergamon Museum on Berlin’s famous Museum Island, and Trisha went and hung out with Micheal.
Although I love the Pergamon Museum, I had never been to the Film & Television Museum. Anastasia was in her senior year of college and had spent the previous semester in LA at film school. She knows how much I like movie history (as well as modern German history) so she came up with the idea of us going here for our final day in the city. Ivan had only been to Berlin once– 8 years earlier– so I was a bit concerned that he might get lost. But, he assured me that his prowess in using the metro in NY would provide him the necessary skills to get to the Pergamon. They did get lost, but ultimately made it to the museum. Unfortunately, half the museum, including the most important part, was being refurbed: the Pergamon alter.
So the Berlin Film and Television Museum was a sensory treat. It is in Sony Center (in former East Berlin). It is a very cool new building complex which has restaurants, hotels, offices, cinemas, an IMAX, museums, Legoland…. There is a mall across the street and the famous Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival). I love the Sony Center! The first picture below features the architectural wonder that is the award winning Sony Center roof. It is made of glass and membranes that move, light up and change in color — it is a sight to behold, especially at night.And of course, it is environmentally responsible and energy efficient.
Pictured above are some first impressions; the second picture is the entryway ‘floor’ to the museum on the fourth floor. It’s a metal grating that you walk out onto as soon as you step out of the elevator. I found it a bit unnerving, but it added to the chic, ultra modern look of the museum.
We spent about three hours in the museum, which has some incredible ‘set pieces’ for lack of a better term. The museum moves mostly chronologically through German film and television history. We loved the surreal feeling you get when you first walk into the museum, in the picture above (first on second row) you can see Ana standing in front of one of the huge screens in a dark room with a lighted silvery walking path.
Though there were many fascinating exhibits, I’ll just hit on the ones that still stick out in my mind these two years later. There were three rooms dedicated to the 20th century film icon Marlene Dietrich. She was controversial for wearing men’s clothing on and off screen and for her bisexual exploits in Hollywood. She refused Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels offer to come back to Germany and be the face of National Socialism, and was an outspoken opponent of it.
There was a room featuring the film Olympia–still considered a masterpiece of staged documentary—which chronicled the 1936 Olympics. This opened into a larger, stoic room with stainless steel walls– reminiscent of a morgue. This is the room dedicated to the National Socialist era in Germany. The walls are actually made of big metal drawers you can pull out to read about various directors and artists in the film industry who fell victim to the Nazi propaganda machine. Lots of sad stories here, and being the information hound that I am, I read almost every one of them– which took me about an hour.
A significant part of the museum is dedicated to the groundbreaking German silent film, Metropolis. As a matter of fact, it is believed that, if not for the National Socialists, the types of strides made in the film industry by Germany in general and Babelsburg Studio in particular, would have led to Germany rivaling or surpassing Hollywood.
On the walk back to the Potsdamer Platz U-bahn station, we stopped to take a picture in front of the Wall remnant displayed there [last picture above]– it had been set up for the 25th Anniversary events.
We met up with the guys at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, near Brandenburg Gate. Christian really wanted to go up inside the Siegessaule (Victory Column), which is straight down Strasse des 17. Juni [this is the western continuance of Unter den Linden, the name changes from Unter den Lindend to 17th of June Street once you pass through the Brandenburg Gate]. So, we decided to take the scenic route down Strassed des 17. Juni, this took us through the lovely Tiergarten [the huge city park right in the middle of Berlin]. I’d never been through the Tiergarten in autumn, but I think it may be even more beautiful this time of year than in the summer.
This took us past the Soviet War Memorial again (but on the opposite side of the street), and as it was getting darker, and close to closing time, we had to hurry. The walk was much further than we anticipated,so that when we got there, we realized we were going to be late for our reserved tour time at the Reichstag. So we decided that only Christian would go in and quickly take picture. The rest of us were tired and not willing to pay to climb 270 steps up a spiral staircase and rush back out without time to really enjoy the view.
When Christian came back downstairs, we rushed to the nearest bus stop. We got on the wrong bus, and ultimately ended up arriving at the Reichstag late and exhausted, but they let us in anyway.
By the time we got through the stringent security check and took the elevator (crammed in with a lot of other tourists), it was dark outside. My past two visits to the Reichstag were during the day, and the views are spectacular, so I was a bit concerned, but the views at night were incredible! I didn’t go out on the roof to take pictures, so mine aren’t as sharp taken through the glass of the Dome [click on each pic for better view].
The top picture is of the Spree River as it passes the Paul-Löbel-Haus, which is a legislative building. In the bottom left picture, you can barely make out the glass roof of the Sony Center lit up in blue. The building to the left of it, lit up in white lights is the Ritz-Carlton Berlin. In the last picture is the Brandenburg Gate which lies to the southeast of the Reichstag. By the time we finished our audio tour and made our way back downstairs in the crowded elevator, we were all beyond ready to go to bed. The next morning we got up bright and early and headed to the airport. Our friend Michael met us there to see us off. It was a great week, spent in a great city with many old and new military brat friends.
Up Next: European Road Trip 2016