A Level Film students recently enjoyed an educational trip to Berlin.
"From the moment you arrive in Berlin you are overwhelmed by how this famous city embraces modernity while acknowledging the complexities of its history; the ideal destination for film students. Our group were inspired by how the past jostles alongside the present. Berliners unflinchingly accept the difficulties of their recent times, but also have reinvented their city to one full of colourful art and flamboyant architecture. We all recalled our favourite Berlin set films: Caberet, Atomic Blonde, Possession and even the opening scenes of Octopussy.
The 1930s atmosphere at the Olympic stadium starkly overwhelmed our group as we imagined the cultural friction between Nazism and the heroic athletes such as Jesse Owens. It was impossible to escape the images of propaganda films from the Third Reich. We learned how this troubled beginning has now been transformed into a welcoming space for music concerts and football matches. From here, we travelled to our hotel, and gladly welcomed our beds. We all got to grips with German cuisine - it’s very meaty - and that is just the veggie option!
The broadcaster Berliner Rundfunk, gave us the privilege to see the intricacy of television making and radio production. We had the chance to learn the mysteries of radio sound as their effects were revealed. During our visit to the German film museum, we saw costumes, set designs and vintage/modern films featuring film royalty such as the iconic Marlene Dietrich. We ended day two with an essential visit to the Reichstag, the parliamentary building that has been reimaged by the British architect Norman Foster; an incredible space that celebrates modern democracy.
There is little that can prepare anyone when they see the remains of the wall. Embedded in the ground are memorial plaques of those ambitious and brave souls desperate to venture across the artificial divide that once divided this incredible city. Our group hushed with the realisation of what these remnants meant and how long Berlin and its citizens had suffered under the strain of politics. The courage in facing and even commemorating the past is deep-rooted in the Berlin psyche; made evident in the Topography of Terror that chronicles the horror of Nazism from 1933 to 1945. The beauty of the holocaust memorial with its rising and falling stones allowed us all space to think. It is a unique place, where the people moving about the sculpture seem to defy cruelty. The brief visit to the location of Hitler’s bunker was suitably short and gave no credence to his abhorrent ideals. Our afternoon was spent in the Schoenberg, the colourful district and home to the legend David Bowie who made his home in Berlin for over four decades.
Looming over Berlin is the Fernsehturm TV tower. We visited this functional and awe-inspiring structure that defies physics. Ears popped as we travelled in a lift straight from a Bond villain's lair. The panorama gave us a final chance to survey the city. We left inspired by the potential that this landscape offered to our current studies in film. We understood how a cityscape can inspire and also be influenced by film-making.”
Written by student Harlyn Van Vuuren who is studying A Levels in Film, Politics and English Literature at The Henley College.