Sony Center and Berlin Filmmuseum

The Sony Center Berlin

Sony is (obviously) a Japanese company and yet here we are at their European headquarters in Berlin, under a roof designed to look like Mount Fuji in a building that Sony no longer owns because they sold it to German and US investors. I find that a curious blend of multinationalism.

But the Sony Center complex is stunning and that umbrella roof is quite marvelous, and open. From the top it looks like a circus big top (or Mount Fuji…). The complex focuses largely on film and houses an IMAX theatre, the Berlin Filmmuseum and a Legoland (?!) around an open colorful courtyard that would fit in well anywhere in Tokyo

Sony Center Berlin

I came to see the film museum because while I’m not all that well versed in German film particularly, I like film in general so I figured I’d enjoy it. I also hoped they would cover Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders, one my favorite films of all time.

The entrance into the museum is exceptionally trippy with multiple screens surrounded by mirrors

Filmmuseum Berlin

I took a bunch of pictures I wasn’t allowed to take because the visuals were just so freaking cool.

Me and Bogey having a moment. Whatevs.

Filmmuseum Berlin

Mirrors on mirrors on mirrors going down the rabbit hole.

Filmmuseum Berlin

The museum is curated chronologically covering most of the 20th century, with paraphernalia from big landmark films like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

Fritz Lang Metropolis

In addition to pictures and what have you, the museum also has these tiny 1/10 scale models of movie sets to show how a scene is filmed. Like there would be two partial walls, small dolls of the actors in the scene and then around them are teensy cameras stationed on dollies with tiny little grips and gaffers hauling cable and pushing lights around, the wee little director with a megaphone perched on a ladder… stuff like that. Clever and quite a creative way to show the logistics of sets, sound and lights with filming.

As with all of the rest of Berlin, everything is before and after. Before Hitler and after Hitler. Before the Berlin wall and after the Berlin wall. I really noticed it here because everything in the museum is classy and well laid out in beautiful glass boxes until you get to the room that houses the Third Reich stuff and Hitler’s propaganda films. That room looks like a safe deposit room. Tall metal walls full of drawers and one table down the middle of the room with a few plaques under glass to explain the chronology. You have to walk around the room and pull drawers out to see more displays from this era or watch any of the film.

I read yesterday that all museums in Germany have to be careful about how they display Hitler/Nazi memorabilia. They can’t make it too accessible or display it in a really fetching manner because those displays draw the white supremacists and cults who still revere Hitler. Plus it’s illegal in Germany to display the swastika, even on legitimate historical memorabilia. It’s a delicate balancing act between honesty and transparency – the Germans like that word a lot – and encouraging the wrong element by treating Hitler the way they would treat anyone else in Germany’s past.

There’s a museum called Topography of Terror, dedicated specifically to the Third Reich. I haven’t yet visited but I’m intrigued to see how they handle this dilemma.

Overall I found the Film Museum to be quite entertaining and visually stunning. Wim Wenders was mentioned but not Wings of Desire but I learned a lot about other German artists I’d like to check out.

I stopped at the German bar down in the courtyard for a pretzel and some dunkel

Lindenbrau Sony CenterAnd now I have a copy of The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich. That’ll be a good end to a German film heavy day.

Tomorrow is Germany’s labor day and it’s reportedly gonna be all crazy up in here. I’ll tell you about it then. XOX

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