As the count-down continues to our departure to Europe on September 3rd, preparations and research continue with books and movies related to our destinations. Last week’s post was on Paris, where we will be for the month of October…but first we head to Berlin, where neither Doug nor I have been, so we are trying to learn a bit about this eclectic and interesting city before we set foot there! If you have any suggestions, be they good reads, films, restaurants, neighbourhoods, etc, please don’t hesitate to chime in!
Books and Movies to set the stage for Berlin
- My Berlin Kitchen is a delightful book by Luisa Weiss of the popular blog The Wednesday Chef. Luisa tells the story of her young life bouncing between Berlin, Italy and New York, trying to figure out where she fits in and where is home. She weaves her tale deliciously through food and entices with her recipes. A wonderful book filled with humour, vulnerability and hope!
- The Boys in the Boat, is an epic true tale of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, rowing for the University of Washington, who defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin in 1936. Although descriptions of Berlin were few, the details of the perseverance and emotional struggles of these athletes reinforced the strength necessary to pursue a dream!
- Book of Clouds, the debut novel by Chloe Aridjis, which I am awaiting patiently from Amazon as it’s not available in my local library. According to Good Reads “Book of Clouds is a profound portrait of a city (Berlin) forever in flux, and of the myths we cling to in order to give shape to our lives.” The story unfolds with the backdrop of the Cold War, the details of which intrigue me. I’m learning that after World War II, Germany was divided into four military occupied zones (American, British and French in the West and Soviet in the East) to help reconstruct the country and ensure it didn’t become a threat to world peace. However, in order to stop the western migration of those living in the East to the democratic West, the Soviets erected The (Berlin) Wall overnight on August 13th 1961!
- The Lives of Others: In 1984 East Berlin, five years before the Wall came down, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. Voyeurism and manipulation intermingle and intrigue. This movie won the Oscar and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language movie in 2007.
- Atomic Blonde, an exhilarating spy movie starring Charlize Theron and James McAvoy about an undercover MI6 agent who is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. As always, Charlize is amazing!
- Bridge of Spies, the indelible Tom Hanks plays a lawyer asked by the American government to negotiate the release of a Soviet-captured US pilot who went down in Germany during the Cold War in exchange for a Soviet spy. Great period piece with scenes of line-ups at the Berlin Wall.
- A Coffee in Berlin, winner of the German Film Awards for best film, director and actor, is a “poignant love-letter to the city of Berlin” as described by Twitch Film. This black and white week-in-the-life of a young law school dropout in search of a good coffee is a touching, slacker comedy debut film, which gave me a real sense of the gritty edginess of this city.
That’s all she wrote… so if you have any other suggestions, we are all ears! We look forward to checking out Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery, the largest open air gallery, where a series of murals are painted on 1,316 metres of the Wall.