The art of entertainment
For this tour, plan in two days. Hit the entertainment trail to explore the fascinating architecture of cinemas and theatres inspired by Berlin modernism – and perhaps even be inspired to take in a movie yourself! The original Filmkunsthaus Babylon cinema, designed in the 1920s by Hans Poelzig, has the spacious charm of its era. The programme not only include series of international films, but also silent films accompanied by piano or the original cinema organ. The Volksbühne Berlin theatre from 1914, designed by Oskar Kaufmann, is renowned for its experimental plays. Almost entirely destroyed in the Second World War, it was rebuilt in the 1950s to plans developed by Hans Richter. For the Kino International cinema, East German architecture successfully integrated modernist principles. The first floor is a real eye-catcher – seemingly projecting into space nine metres above the ground-floor façade with no evident means of support. This floor also has a massive rectangular glass-fronted façade, unbroken except for a large-format poster, still hand-painted even today, showing the current main film.
The Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television focuses on the history of German film from its origins to today and show- cases the myth of silver screen diva Marlene Dietrich. In room displays with impressive effects, find out more about the background to German film classics, major figures and how Berlin modernism and the New Objectivity movement influenced cinema, just as it did all the various forms of entertainment and the arts in the 1920s. With its very special charm, the elegant Zoo Palast 5 is a real premiere cinema and a main venue for the Berlinale film festival. There has always been a cinema here since 1915. The atmospheric auditorium in the Cinema Paris 6 offers the perfect ambience for art house films. During renovation work in the 1920s, the original decorative neo-baroque façade was transformed to reflect the style popular in the New Objectivity movement.
The stage of the Schaubühne Berlin not only presents the great classics, but regularly showcases new theatre formats and experimental drama. In 1981, the Schaubühne moved to Lehniner Platz and into the Mendelssohn building, named after architect Erich Mendelssohn. This former cinema, now a heritage building, is notable for its curved façade and red clinker brick construction. Under Berlin architect Jürgen Sawade, it was converted into a multifunctional theatre with three stages. Founded in the early 1900s, the Deutsche Oper Berlin was designed for a wide audience. Today, this opera house is ranked as one of Germany’s best, with a modern programme and all seats offering a good view of the stage. After the original building was largely destroyed in the Second World War, a new opera house by architect Fritz Bornemann was opened on the same site in 1961. The Titania Palast is one of the city’s few surviving cinemas from the glamorous early days of the talkies – a relic of Berlin’s Golden Twenties. Designed in a New Objectivity style, the architecture combines interlocking cubist blocks, while the simple facades are structured with horizontal lines and vertical slit windows.