Exploring Görliwood

Germany

Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Jackie Chan, Geoffrey Rush, Owen Wilson... Görlitz has hosted many stars.

Exploring Görliwood

By Stefan Roesch

Over 100 productions have already been shot in 'Görliwood'. This presents a special challenge for a film tourist: where to begin? Here are our top picks - in no particular order. 

1. Inglorious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino chose the Untermarkt square for the shootout between the German war hero Fredrick Zoller (played by popular German actor Daniel Brühl) and a group of attacking US soldiers. Curiously, the entire scene is actually a film within the film, which features during the illustrious movie premiere of the Nazi propaganda movie Stolz der Nation (Nation's Pride) for which Zoller took on the main role (starting at 2:10:40 in the movie). 

Looking towards the historic town hall with its clocktower.

Looking towards the historic town hall with its clocktower.

Actors waiting for the next take. The collonnades in the background are part of... 

Actors waiting for the next take. The collonnades in the background are part of... 

...the Frenzelhof, a 500 year old hotel.

...the Frenzelhof, a 500 year old hotel.

The set in action.

The set in action.

Inglorious Basterds - Official Trailer

2. The Book Thief

The Untermarkt also served as a primary location in The Book Thief. The story takes place during WW2 and tells the story of nine year-old Liesl Meminger, who escapes her grim reality by retreating into the world of stolen books. Several cities refused to permit the filming, as one of the key scenes involved the burning of books on a square decorated with giant Nazi flags and other insignia. The administration of Görlitz however, decided to take on the challenge.

For the book burning scene on the Untermarkt, the crew had to organise hundreds and hundreds of used books.

For the book burning scene on the Untermarkt, the crew had to organise hundreds and hundreds of used books.

All the Nazi flags on the buildings had to be twisted when the crew were not filming, so that the swastikas would be hidden from view (and any paparazzi). 

All the Nazi flags on the buildings had to be twisted when the crew were not filming, so that the swastikas would be hidden from view (and any paparazzi). 

On a normal night, the Untermarkt looks like this.

Not so for our movie heroine Liesl... 

...who has to watch on helplessly...

...as all these treasures go up in flames.

The Book Thief - Official Trailer 

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

For several months in the winter of 2013, the who's who of Hollywood called Görliwood home: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Léa Seydoux and many more stars followed director Wes Anderson's call to create what has turned out to be an absolute cult movie.

For any fan, the first port of call would have to be the Kaufhaus Görlitz which served as the hotel lobby. Clearly one of the most stunning locations we've ever been to.

While the Kaufhaus is a significant location, many other parts of Görlitz can been seen in the movie. The City Hall (Stadthalle) was used for both exterior and interior scenes. 

This photo was taken inside the Stadthalle (currently closed to the public due to renovations). Over dinner, Zero Mustafa tells the writer how he took ownership of the Grand Budapest and why he is determined to keep it open at all costs.

This photo was taken inside the Stadthalle (currently closed to the public due to renovations). Over dinner, Zero Mustafa tells the writer how he took ownership of the Grand Budapest and why he is determined to keep it open at all costs.

The Jüdenstrasse next to the historic Untermarkt square sees Jopling (played by Willem Dafoe) walking away from the crime scene after killing the Deputy Kovacs.

Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum).

Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum).

Jopling in pursuit of Deputy Kovacs.

Jopling in pursuit of Deputy Kovacs.

Jopling walking down Jüdenstrasse after the murder.

Jopling walking down Jüdenstrasse after the murder.

Another iconic spot is the brick wall in Bergstrasse that had 'Old Lutz Cemetery' painted on it.

After filming was finished, the local authorities intended to leave the writing on the wall for fans, but the public demanded the restoration of the wall with the words 'Wählt Thälmann' - which had previously been used in an East German TV film from 1985!

Many of the main actors stayed at the upmarket Hotel Börse on the Untermarkt. 

You might also want to pop into the lovely little cafe Kaffee am Flüsterbogen, directly opposite the Hotel Börse. It's tiny, but very cosy, and the cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel loved it. Owner Heiko knows all the insider stories. We love the one about Tilda Swinton who only came in on Mondays - for cocktail happy hour. 

Here we are with our friends Heiko (far left) and Stephanie (far right) in front of café Flübo.

Here we are with our friends Heiko (far left) and Stephanie (far right) in front of café Flübo.

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Official Trailer

 4. The Reader

The Kaisertrutz is one of four remaining bastions from the late 15th century. It appears in The Reader which was also mainly shot in Görlitz. Unfortunately, most of the locations in this film are very non-descript and hard to identify, but why not hop on one of the trams and explore the streets of Görlitz through the eyes of Hanna Schmitz - played by Kate Winslet, who incidentally won an Oscar for the role.

Hanna 'lives' in Landeskronstrasse 38 above the carpentry workshop Berger. This one is particularly hard to find. It might be best to ask a local.

Here Hanna and her young lover Michael are walking up Bergstrasse.

The Reader - Official Trailer

 5. The Landskron brewery

We concluded our location scout with a visit to the city's Landskron brewery which features as New York's harbour in Around the World in 80 Days with Jackie Chan. 

As a thank you to the film team, the brewery installed a street sign dedicated to Jackie Chan ('Gasse' means 'Street' in German). 

As a thank you to the film team, the brewery installed a street sign dedicated to Jackie Chan ('Gasse' means 'Street' in German). 

The brewery can only be accessed on an hour-long guided tour. It's worth it though, as you will enter the brew house with its old copper boilers.

In the German children's movie Papa Moll, this part of the brewery was turned into a chocolate factory. One of the audience's favourite scenes has Papa Moll rescue the chocolate factory - after 12,000 hazelnuts have spilled to the ground.

Finally, after a lot of walking around this gorgeous city, it was time for an actual beer!

The Görliwood beer can be purchased in the brewery shop. It's quite strong and only comes in one-litre bottles - we're in Germany after all. Na dann, Prost!

The Görliwood beer can be purchased in the brewery shop. It's quite strong and only comes in one-litre bottles - we're in Germany after all. Na dann, Prost!

Useful sources of information and additional tips for planning your visit:

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