Total Film Visits The World's Oldest Movie Studio
The world's oldest film studio
Think of a famous film studio and Pinewood, Burbank or Universal might spring to mind.
But Studio Babelsberg, just outside of Berlin, has been home to many cinematic greats over the years. Having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012, it's the oldest large-scale film studio in the world, the location that Europe's first sound films were recorded and a place of movie magic.
From Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis to the Wachowski's epic Cloud Atlas , 100s of movies have been made at the studio loved by Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and… oh, loads of people.
We were lucky enough to head along for a visit, and learn more about the classic movies filmed at the studio.
Here are just 10 of the best...
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Never heard of it? This favourite of many film students sees Werner Krauss in the title role of a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a sleepwalker named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). But when a series of murders begin in a sleepy German town, Caligari is unsurprisingly considered chief suspect by love rival Francis (Friedrich Feher).
Bonus knowledge: Robert Wiene's silent horror is one of the most influential films of all time: a box office smash in 1920, it came to define cinematic Expressionism and inspire Film Noir.
Never heard of it? In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a saviour to mediate their differences.
Bonus knowledge: Regarded as a pioneer work of science fiction movies, being the first feature length movie of the genre, Metropolis nearly bankrupted production company UFA and was the most expensive film ever released up to that point. In order to accommodate the production a sound stage was built that's still in use to this day - Marlene Dietrich Hall.
The Blue Angel (1930)
Never heard of it? Marlene Dietrich stars in Josef von Sternberg's famous drama in which an elderly professor's ordered life spins dangerously out of control when he falls for a nightclub singer.
Bonus knowledge: Considered to be the first major German sound film, The Blue Angel brought Dietrich international fame. German and English versions of the film were shot simultaneously, the actors were required to do every scene twice.
The Pianist (2002)
Never heard of it? Really? It won Oscars and everything. Adrien Brody stars as a Polish Jewish musician who struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. It's quite heavy going, but also brilliant.
Bonus knowledge: The Warsaw Ghetto and the surrounding city were recreated on Babelsberg Studio's sizeable backlot as they would have looked during the war. The story had deep connections with director Roman Polanski because he escaped from the Kraków Ghetto as a child after the death of his mother. He ended up living in a Polish farmer's barn until the war's end.
V for Vendetta (2005)
Never heard of it? Oh, if you haven't seen it you must immediately. Hugo Weaving stars in this comic book adaptation as shadowy freedom fighter V, who uses terrorist tactics to fight against his totalitarian society. He finds an ally when he rescues a girl (Natalie Portman) from the secret police.
Bonus knowledge: Despite being set in London, much of the film was shot on sound stages and indoor sets at Babelsberg, with some location work done in Berlin. Of course, production relocated to our fair capital to film the final scenes at Westminster.
Never heard of it? Tom Cruise does his best American accent as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in this dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.
Bonus knowledge: Unsurprisingly, many a Nazi movie has been made at Babelsberg - Valkyrie isn't even the most recent. The film grossed $200 million worldwide making it the 5th highest-grossing World War II film of all-time.
The Reader (2008)
Never heard of it? For shame, this one won an Oscar too. Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes / David Kross) re-encounters his former lover (Kate Winslet) as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.
Bonus knowledge: To avoid legal consequences, the crew delayed the filming of sexually explicit scenes until after actor David Kross' 18th birthday on July 4 2008. The primary cast, all of whom were German besides Fiennes, Olin and Winslet, also decided to emulate Kross's accent since he had just learned English for the film.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Never heard of it? Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Diane Kruger and Michael Fassbender star in Quentin Tarantino's parallel universe-set war drama. In Nazi-occupied France during World War II, a plan to assassinate Nazi leaders by a group of Jewish U.S. soldiers coincides with a theatre owner's vengeful plans for the same.
Bonus knowledge: Rumour has it that Tarantino became quite emotional on stepping into Marlene Dietrich Hall at Babelsberg before filming began. Stains from the fake blood used during production on the movie can still be seen on the walls and floor of the sound stage.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Never heard of it? A boatload of Hollywood greats star in various roles in the Wachowskis' time-spanning sci-fi epic. exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Bonus knowledge: The Wachowskis have been open about how difficult the film was to finance, revealing that the movie almost died several times, until Tom Hanks committed. With a budget of over $100,000,000, Cloud Atlas is one of the most expensive independent films to date.
Cloud Atlas is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 1 July, from Warner Home Video.
The Monuments Men (2013)
Never heard of it? George Clooney's action-thriller won't be released until December, but we're predicting big things for this adaptation of Robert M. Edsel's book. Based on a true story, the film stars Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bill Murray and John Goodman star alongside Clooney in a race against time, as a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys them.
Bonus knowledge: Coming from the same people who made the Oscar-winning Argo , The Monuments Men will be filmed in Berlin and the UK, with a cast of thousands needed for the WWII military scenes.