Goerlitz the backdrop for Nicole Kidman film

1st October 2007, Comments 0 comments

British film director Stephen Daldry wanted a run-down building with an old-fashioned heating stove and a rear courtyard where a carpenter's workshop could be built.

 British film director Stephen Daldry wanted a run-down building with an old-fashioned heating stove and a rear courtyard where a carpenter's workshop could be built.

His production team found the ideal location in Landeskronstrasse, a street in the picturesque east German town of Goerlitz, close to the border with Poland.

"The director was delighted," remembers Frank Schacher, the estate agent who owned the house that will feature in Daldry's movie adaptation of Berhard Schlink's best-selling novel, The Reader.

Schlink, a German writer with a legal background, published The Reader in 1995. It has since been translated into more than 30 languages.

Hollywood stars Nicole Kidman and Ralph Fiennes will head the cast in the story about a teenager who has an affair with a woman in her thirties who suddenly vanishes.

Although filming started this week, Kidman is not expected to make an appearance in Goerlitz until December.

The house in the Landeskronstrasse has been turned into a film set. A sign reading "R Berger - Carpenter," is affixed to the crumbling facade of the building, rekindling the atmosphere of the 1950s, the period in which part of the novel is set.

For the outdoor scenes, cobblestones were placed over the asphalted roads to add to the authenticity. Ten vintage cars were hired from a Hamburg company specialising in movie requisites.

Firms in the region have also profited from the movie-making, which has been the main talking point in Goerlitz since the hiring of extras began in August.

Electrical supplier Frank Meissner provided the electrical plugs for the set and also repaired two chandeliers and refitted the wiring of the flat that will serve as Kidman's home in the film.

"They insisted on original parts," says Meissner, who was lucky enough to have equipment dating back to the 1950s in his storage cabinets.

Goerlitz, which has a well-preserved old town, has served as a backdrop for other films, including the Hollywood comedy adventure Around the World in 80 Days, starring Jackie Chan.

In The Reader, German actor David Kross, 17, plays 15-year-old schoolboy Michael Berg, who has the affair with Kidman's Hanna Schmitz.

They meet again years later when he is a law student visiting a trial about war crimes in which Schmitz is one of the accused. Berg is the only one who knows the reasons behind her admission of guilt.

The filming in Goerlitz lasts until October 2, before resuming again in December. Then two vintage trams will be plying the streets in another touch of authenticity.

The local transport authority has agreed to alter its timetable to accommodate the filming schedule, even if this causes minor disruptions to services.

But Goerlitz residents won't mind, especially if they can take a peek at Kidman playing the role of a tram conductress in their town.

DPA

Subject: German news

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