Travel: Filmmuseum Potsdam & Babelsburg
During the Cold War, Potsdam was the Hollywood of the DDR (the Deutsches Demokratisches Republik), and Babelsburg was the name of the studio at which all the films were produced. Now, however, it’s a museum within an hour’s journey from Berlin. Potsdam is easily accessible via S-bahn, and the museum is within walking distance of the Potsdam Hauptbahnhof (the main train station in Potsdam). The museum has a very modest entrance fee, but once inside, you are treated to all kinds of movie memorabilia. Those who have visited the museum prior to 2005 will remember that not the entire museum at the was translated into English, but enough of it was visual so that a visitor who spoke no German could still enjoy it. The permanent exhibit is both intellectual and fun in that it deals with the politics of the 20th century and how it influenced film production.
Even if one has zero interest in politics, the various film props and costumes are of interest. The exhibit is pleasingly interactive, but not overwhelmingly so: there are touch screens that quiz the visitor on which scenes movies come from, for example, and one can listen to interviews about the filmmaking process. There are film screenings every day, usually for an extra charge. Naturally these films are usually in German, but there are English-language screenings, too, usually of fairly recent award-winning films. The best part of the museum, though, is the children’s exhibit, which is fairly unusual for a German museum.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the studio produced many children’s films that were of traditional fairy tales. At the time of my visit, there was a large interactive exhibit featuring real items from Babelsburg sets, so children can really “experience” the movies for themselves. Even very little children or non German-speakers can have fun with the visual and tactile aspects. The exhibit incorporates video and computer touch-screens for a really immersive experience. Families traveling with small children will find this a great treat. Even the museum’s café is worth a visit. It’s not very overpriced, and the food with a Turkish-influence and a hint of Italian is memorable and served by friendly wait staff.