Tag Archives: Documentary

In the Belly of a Whale – El Bocho

Berlin-based Street Artist El Bocho At Work On The Street In Berlin

Prolific Berlin-based street artist El Bocho speaks to Andreas Lamoth and Frederic Leitzke about his work and his motivations in 2013 in a new episode of their award-winning documentary In the Belly of a Whale.

You may recognise a number of the pieces featured as El Bocho has appeared many many times on andBerlin.  Street art from his Citizen series, Little Lucy and most recently Tina Berlina characters pop up regularly on the streets of Berlin.  You can see more of his work on his website and Facebook page.

In the Belly of a Whale – El Bocho

Sunday Documentary: Clive James – Postcard from Berlin

Australian comedian and broadcaster Clive James was a darling of British television in the 1980s and early 1990s.  As part of his Postcard From… series, James visited Berlin in 1995 and produced the documentary, Postcard from Berlin.

It’s interesting to see how much some of the places shown have changed in the last 20 years.  For instance, the area around the Führer Bunker was then a wasteland – unrecognisable as the site of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

However, some things don’t change – there are still cranes everywhere.

Clive James – Postcard from Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Jesse Owens lines up at the start of the 100m final at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin

Jesse Owens Returns To Berlin is a documentary written, directed and produced by Bud Greenspan and filmed during a visit to Berlin in 1964, which recounts Owens’ incredible achievements during the 1936 Olympics.

The rise of National Socialism in Germany and Hitler’s anti-semitic policies and advocation of the superiority of the Aryan race resulted in several calls for a boycott of the games.  Against this political backdrop, Jesse Owens’ haul of four gold medals is all the more significant.

For a black athlete to demonstrate clearly his superior athleticism and so convincingly outperform his white counterparts was a massive slap in the face for Hitler and made a mockery of his racist theories during his Nazi showpiece games.

Standing in the box at the Olympiastadion where Hitler sat to watch the games, Jesse Owens tells with pride that the flag of the US team was the only one not to be dipped as the athletes passed the Führer.  It may be my imagination but it seems that Hitler’s jaw twitches as he observes this act of defiance.

It was at 28:48 in this documentary that a legend was born.  Standing in the Olympiastadion with Luz Long’s son Kai, Owens tell the remarkable story (disputed like so many other great tales) of his father’s part in his victory in the Long Jump (then known as the Broad Jump).

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin is a wonderful documentary that delivers on many levels: it is a fascinating account of sporting prowess, an important historical record and a tale of good beats evil, and for Berlin fans there is the added interest of seeing the Olympiastadion and Lustgarten as they looked during the 1936 Olympics.

Jesse Owens Returns to Berlin

Sunday Documentary: WATERGATE X

The Crowd and Lights at Watergate Berlin

Photo: Screenshot from WATERGATE X

WATERGATE X is a documentary directed by Stathis Klotsikas produced in 2012 to celebrate 10 years of the Berlin club, Watergate.  The film mixes footage from inside the club and interviews featuring a number of Watergate residents and includes a chat with world-renowned DJ, Sven Väth.

The chances are, if you’ve been to Berlin in the summer, you’ve seen people partying on the club’s deck on the Spree river as you walked over the Oberbaumbrücke.

Friedrich Liecthtenstein fans should keep an eye out for the footage from the video for Solomun – Kackvogel at 22:58.

At 32:51 Dixon identifies what differentiates some of Berlin’s most successful clubs from the ‘superclubs’ in other cities and what makes the Berlin club scene so…well, Berlin.

As well as running a successful club and record label Watergate also organises an Open Air in Rummelsberg each summer and footage of the 2011 event features from 28:15.

I stood in the queue for Watergate once but it wasn’t moving so I ended up in Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke instead – this documentary about this iconic Berlin club makes me determined to go back to have my own experiences there.


Sunday Documentary: Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed

Portrait of Albert Goering c.1940 - screenshot from the documentary 'Goering's Last Secret: Revealed'

Photo: Screenshot from the documentary ‘Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed’

Goering’s Last Secret: Revealed tells the remarkable story of Albert Göring (Goering), the brother of Hitler’s henchman, Hermann Göring, who traded on his brother’s name and made it his mission to rescue people from the tyranny of the Nazis.

This documentary follows William Hastings Burke, an Australian, whose fascination with Göring’s life and quest for the truth about his acts of resistance and subsequent research was laid out in the book, Thirty Four, published by Wolfgeist Ltd in 2009.

The book’s title is a reference to the 34 names on Albert Göring’s list of people he helped that he presented as witnesses during his trial at Nuremberg.

Ironically and sadly, considering his exploits, the allies brought Albert before the military tribunals at the Nuremberg trials for war crimes merely because he was the brother of Hermann Göring.

His accusers refused to believe his tales of resistance until after 14 months imprisonment he was appointed a new interrogator, Major Victor Parker.

In what was a very fortunate coincidence, Parker was the nephew of Sophie Paschkis, the wife of the composer Franz Lehár, who Albert had saved and whose name was among the thirty-four.

Despite his eventual exoneration, Albert Göring continued to suffer for his association with the Göring family name and its Nazi connections and this thoughtful and absorbing documentary and his life do not have the happy endings they deserved.

Goering’s Last Secret – Revealed

Sunday Documentary: The Real Kaiser Bill – Wilhelm II of Germany

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Photo: V.Scheurich Berlin. Reproduktion Günter Josef Radig. – Cabinet Photographie 1888

The Real Kaiser Bill: Wilhelm II of Germany, a documentary for Channel 4 in the UK tells the story of Germany’s last Emperor, Wilhelm II from his birth in 1859 in Berlin to his death in 1941.

The son of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Wilhelm suffered from Erb’s palsy – which left him with a withered and stunted left arm – due to complications from a breech birth.

Wilhelm was a frequent visitor to Great Britain and his appointment as Admiral of the British Fleet and appreciation of the Royal Navy influenced his own decision to develop Germany’s naval powers.

Despite his admiration for the British aristocracy and longing for the approval of his grandmother, Wilhelm’s shortcomings in diplomacy and foreign policy ultimately led him to view the British as rivals.

He led Germany, though reluctantly it would seem, into war in 1914 but he was an ineffectual leader and allowed his generals to dictate military strategy.

The German people blamed Wilhelm for a marked turnaround in the country’s fortunes during his reign and fearing reprisals he abdicated in November 1918 and fled to Doorn in the Netherlands, where he lived out the remainder of his days in exile.

At the time of his death in 1941, the former Kaiser, Wilhelm II was a supporter of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler, whose anti-semitic attitudes he shared.

The Real Kaiser Bill: Wilhelm II of Germany

Sunday Documentary: The Berlin Wall 1961 – 1989

A boy stands at the Berlin Wall in 1961

Photo: Still from ‘The Berlin Wall 1961 – 1989′

Produced for Berlin Story to accompany the book of the same name, The Berlin Wall 1961 – 1989 is an informative and entertaining documentary covering the lifecycle of the world’s most infamous border fortification.

The usual historical events are covered: the building of the ‘wall’ on 13 August 1961, Kennedy’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech and Reagan’s challenge to his Soviet counterpart, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall”; but there are also personal insights that add colour to the story.

The film lacks a little of the polish of a documentary produced by the likes of the BBC, National Geographic or the History Channel but the abundance of archive footage make this a must-see for Berlin history fans.

The Berlin Wall 1961 – 1989

Sunday Documentary: Life Behind The Wall

East German lady and Milka Cow - Thomas Hoepker for Magnum

Photo: Thomas Hoepker for Magnum

In Life Behind The Wall, a short documentary for The Economist, Magnum photographer Thomas Hoepker talks about his experiences in Berlin and his photographs, first in a divided city and then shortly after reunification.

Born in 1936 in Munich, Hoepker is a celebrated photographer with a long association with the Magnum Photos agency, serving as president from 2003 to 2006.

Hoepker first worked in East Berlin in 1959 when he was sent to photograph the ‘10 Jahre DDR’ (10 years GDR) celebrations. He describes a drab city, the grey punctuated only by the red of communism.

In 1972 whilst working as a photographer for Stern magazine, Hoepker and his wife Eva Windmöller, a writer for the magazine, moved to East Berlin on assignment.

Thomas Hoepker’s photos from this time are the backbone of Life Behind The Wall and his memories of and motivations for taking the pictures, along with observations about life in East Berlin accompany an impressive slideshow.

Life Behind The Wall

Sunday Documentary: Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia

Portrait of Frederick the Great (Friedrich der Grosse) from the BBC documentary 'Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia'

Photo: Still from ‘Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia’

Professor Christopher Clark details the life of one of Germany’s (then Prussia) most famous rulers, Friedrich der Grosse, in the BBC documentary ‘Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia’.

Fritz, as he was affectionately known, was a cultured man who gathered like-minded intellectuals and artists such as Voltaire at Schloss Sanssouci to enjoy music and discuss philosophy in a time now referred to as the Enlightenment.

A complex man, he is also recognised as one of the greatest military strategists of all time.

Frederick the Great came to power in May 1740 following the death of his father, Friedrich Wilhelm I (Frederick William I).  In a move that would shock his enemies, within seven months of his accession, Fritz, the Philosopher King, invaded Silesia.

He then waged war with the Austrians, who had been largely responsible for the violent and hate-filled relationship Frederick had with his father after he was forced to witness the execution of his friend, Hans Hermann von Katte – punishment for a failed attempt to flee the tyranny of his father.

Joseph Goebbels, who produced the Nazi propaganda film, Der Grosse König, adopted Fritz as a symbol of German strength.  Hitler identified so strongly with Frederick the Great that a portrait of the King of Prussia was one of his most prized possessions.

Frederick the Great’s legacy is evident in Berlin in the architecture of the Bebelplatz and his statue stands before it in the middle of Unter den Linden.  The nearby Friedrichstrasse is also named in his honour.

A story of scandal, intrigue, enlightenment and war, the life of Frederick the Great makes for a compelling documentary.

Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia

Sunday Documentary: The Big Picture – Berlin Duty

Soldiers in a tank marked Tempelhof from the US Army documentary The Big Picture - Berlin Duty

Photo: Still from the US Army documentary ‘The Big Picture – Berlin Duty’

The Big Picture – Berlin Duty was produced by the Army Pictorial Centre and presented by the United States Army.  What is essentially a propaganda film for the US Army is valuable as a documentary as it includes footage of day-to-day activities in West Berlin as well as key events in the history of the city.

The footage at 6:41 shows the utter devastation wrought on the city of Berlin by the bombers of the Allied Forces during World War II.  Looking at the rebuilt city it is difficult to imagine just how much needed to be cleared and reconstructed in the years following the war.

Amongst the historical moments captured are the Berlin Airlift in 1948-49; the riots in East Berlin in 1953 that came to be known as the People’s Uprising in East Germany (Volksaufstand in der DDR), commemorated in Berlin in the name of one its most famous boulevards, Strasse des 17 Juni; and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Of course no US depiction of events in Berlin would be complete without a mention of JFK’s ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech – an important sign that the US would not forsake the people of West Berlin.

Keep your eye out for some familiar Berlin sights: Schloss Charlottenburg; the Reichstag; the Soviet Memorial on Strasse des 17 Juni; and Tempelhof Airport for instance.

Also featured is the Protestant Church of the Reconciliation Parish, blown up by the East Germans in 1985 and now the site of the Chapel of Reconciliation (Kapelle der Versöhnung), part of the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer.

The Big Picture – Berlin Duty