Prague, Czech Republic TWITTER/GIRLSWALLP

Welcome to the second in a series where we take a much needed holiday through film. In this week’s instalment of our cinematic travels, we’ll take on a classic interrailing route through the Northern European capitals: Prague, Vienna & Berlin.

While the mention of an interrailing adventure might evoke being half asleep on a train, or one too many bottles into the night, the reason we choose to have these less proud moments in Eastern Europe is because that in the morning light there’s nothing more beautiful than squares lined with magnificent architecture and houses in an array of pastel colours. I’ve chosen a film for each city, let’s begin in the destination I tragically missed (what an oversight): Prague.

We finished last week with what I called a ‘lighthearted crime drama’ (Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard), well in comparison this is a ridiculous mystery-solving romp. Adele Hasn’t Had Her Dinner Yet (Oldřich Lipský, 1978) sees American detective Nick Carter arrive in Prague to assist a less than attentive police department track down the thief of a dog! Take bizarre characters, Little Shop of Horrors style plants, and crucially, a mad dash through the beautiful city of Prague! This film is obscure enough that you can keep up your intellectual cinematic facade (if you have one, I’m mostly talking to myself…) but it’s ultimately funny and enjoyable, well worth the watch.

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If you lean towards less ridiculous crime stories, perhaps The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949) is for you. Whilst this film is an acclaimed thriller, the first thing that comes to mind for me is not the plot but how it weaves through the streets of Vienna in the night-time. Despite depicting post-war Vienna in harsh black and white, the city is only more striking this way, and this film is the perfect marriage of an exciting story with beautiful shots.

Continuing the black and white theme, let’s move on to Berlin. Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987) is a tale told (mostly) through the eyes of angels, who see the world in grayscale, or more specifically see West Berlin. They listen in on the thoughts of lonesome Berliners, though you may miss out on some of the subtitles if, like me, you’re too taken with the interesting shots of Berlin.

“Not only does this film let you escape to Berlin, but the great bird’s-eye shots [...] really put things in perspective.”


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Unlike Vienna in The Third Man, Berlin isn’t delightfully old fashioned in this film but modern - think train tracks and gasometers, not to mention the abundant shots of Berlin State Library, which are all granted a certain grandeur by the artful cinematography. Interestingly, all shots of the Berlin Wall took place in a studio, as filming the real wall was outlawed at the time of production. Not only does this film let you escape to Berlin, but the great bird’s-eye shots with minute people wandering through them really put things in perspective, and the protagonist’s keenness to relish in little things like the ink on a newspaper may re-energise you to appreciate all that Cambridge life has to offer.

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It’s not often you visit three capital cities in a single sitting, even more infrequent that you witness two detective investigations and an angel falling in love, but this is what you sign up for when you enter the beautiful filmic worlds recommended above. Whether you’re looking for highly ornamented baroque masterpieces or plain post-war architecture, these three films really capture the architectural landscape of their cities. In the next instalment, I’ll introduce you to some discoveries I made whilst trying to escape the euro-centric bubble that led me to the collection thus far.