Berlin has served as the setting for countless films, and in the early years of moviemaking, its studios rivaled those in Hollywood. Because Berlin is dear to my heart, I have seen many of them, but if I could recommend only one, it would be “Good Bye, Lenin!” This charming and heartwarming picture centers on a young East German man and his mother, who emerges from a coma shortly after the Wall comes down. When she awakes, the doctor informs her son that her heart can’t tolerate any shocks. Afraid that learning of the demise of East Germany might kill her, he goes to ever greater and more farcical lengths to hide the fact, roping his sister, girlfriend, neighbors and eventually a former cosmonaut into the scheme. The film offers insight into East German life and the tumultuous changes wrought by the fall of the Wall, but ultimately, it’s about a son’s deep love.
I also highly recommend “The Lives of Others,” which follows an East German playwright and actress and the Stasi agent who spies on them; “Run Lola Run,” a time-bending action film about a young woman’s attempts to procure 100,000 marks in just 20 minutes; and “Metropolis,” Fritz Lang’s silent masterpiece, memorable for its incomparably beautiful art deco sets.