Berlin Calling (2008)




Director:     Hannes Sthr.

Starring:     Paul Kalkbrenner (Martin Karow alias DJ Ickarus),  Rita Lengyel (Mathilde),  Corinna Harfouch (Prof. Dr. Petra Paul),  Araba Walton (Corinna),  Peter Schneider (Crystal Pete),  Rolf Peter Kahl (Erbse),  Henriette Mller (Jenny),  Udo Kroschwald (Karow - Martins Vater),  Megan Gay (Labelchefin Alice),  Max Mauff (Zivi Alex),  Peter Moltzen (Heinrich Karow - MartinsBruder),  Dirk Borchardt (Clubchef Tom),  Erdal Yildiz (Hotelangestellter),  Ernest Hausmann (Pfleger Ernesto),  Andr Hoffmann (Franz).

East German Martin, after getting out of prison after 12 years, finds it hard to adjust to life in Berlin after German unification


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.  Curse words. 

A couple are together having beverages at the air port.  This same couple are seen on stage for what is going to be an outdoors rock concert at a fair.  The audience is having a good time dancing to the music.  When they finish the couple flies to another location for another concert.  They seem to always be on the road setting up one concert after another. 

The couple are in bed.  The woman Mathilde is smoking and the man Icka is laying on top of her. 

They have a music agent named Alice listen to some of their tracks for a new label.  She is not impressed and tells the couple:  "I think you can do better."  Icka asks her:  "What have you got against my tracks? . . . My shit rocks, period."  The fellow goes back to working on his music.  He gets a telephone call from a man just outside his building who is named Erbse.  He asks if he can come upstairs.  The musicians tells him to come on up. 

Mathilde complains on the phone that the tax office keeps sending her more and more payment notices. She says they already paid everything they owed.  She is talking on the phone when Erbse comes out of the room and says hello to Mathilde.  He waits to talk with Mathilde, but gives up after awhile and leaves.  Mathilde finishes her phone conversation and then goes in to see her boyfriend.  She tells him:  "I don't want Erbse in our apartment anymore."  She sees that Icka is high on something.  She asks him why is he forever taking drugs?   

Mathilde goes to bed.  Icka wakes up early and asks her if she wants to go partying with him?  No.  Icka takes off.  He goes to a place where there is music and dancing.  He goes with a girl named Jenny into a bathroom stall and they take some drugs.  Jenny then kisses Icka and he kisses her. 

Icka goes into listen to a his father, a minister, preach in church.  There are very few people in the pews.  He sits next to his brother Stefan.  After the sermon the two brothers visit with their father.  Icka complains that all Stefan every gets is one internship after another.  He went to school until he was 30 and then until he is 40 he is going to be doing internships and then he will go onto unemployment.  Father tells Stefan not to listen to Icka.  Stefan admits that Icka is right.  He is being abused by this internship system. 

Icka DJs at a club.  Mathilde talks to a man about renting his place to have a record release party.  The fellow asks her on what date does she want to have the party?  Mathilde says she has to to talk with Alice who works for the record label.  Icka looks at the river from a bridge.  Mathilde goes looking for Icka in the clubs.  She finds Erbse and asks him if he gave any drugs to Icka?  He says he gave Icka MDMA.  She asks for some drugs from Erbse, but then tells Erbes:  "I don't want you giving Ickarus keta, crystal or any hardcore stuff."  Now she continues her search for her boyfriend. 

Icka is on the streets high as a kite.  He takes his jacket off and then his shirt.  Mathilde goes and sits with her black friend Corinna.  Icka is in a restaurant without his shirt or jacket.  He is making a mess playing with the food on the table.  The host comes over and asks Icka if he's a guest here?  He says yes.  The fellow puts in a call to someone. 

Mathilde and Corinna are at the hospital.  Ickarus is in acute care.  Dr. Paul says the patient's clothes were full of yoghurt and asks Mathilde to bring him some fresh clothes.  The doctor also tells Mathilde that Icka will have to stay in the hospital until they can find out if his psychosis is drug induced or if he is actually psychotic.  Mathilde pulls out some pills and tells the administrator that Ickarus most likely took pills like these. 

Icka wakes up in the hospital.  A fellow named Alex comes up to him and says he will need hair and urine samples from Mr. Karow.  All of a sudden Alex recognizes Ickarus and compliments him on his music.  He adds that last year he danced his ass off to one of Icka's jams. 

Icka talks with Dr. Paul.  He tells her that he had a really bad trip yesterday.  He was full of fears about himself and saw his own death.  His heart is still racing, but he feels a lot better today.  Dr. Paul says she wants Icka to stay until they get the tests results of what pills he ingested.  Icka agrees to that, but adds that he won't stay a day longer than that. 

Mathilde comes in to visit Icka.  She tells him she is worried about him.  He says he'll get the album done and then they can go on vacation somewhere.  After Mathilde leaves, Dr. Paul, says that she is taking Icka to movement therapy.  Icka says he can't leave because he is working on his album.  She asks if she can listen to his music.  He gives her some earphones and lets her listen in.  When the music stops, she says the music is "very dark, almost depressing." Now Dr. Paul insists that Icka come to movement therapy with her. 

Icka's roommate is a bit crazy.  He gets extremely upset because he can't find his USA t-shirt.  Icka has to tell him that he is wearing his USA t-shirt.  That, however, does not calm the roommate down much.  Icka asks Alex what's wrong with his roommate?  Crystal meth is the answer. Another fellow in the unit never came down off his LSD.  He no longer talks to anyone. 

Icka wakes up from a night mare in a sweat.  He hears the sound of water raining down.  Icka thinks it's coming from the bathroom so the nightly attendant opens the bathroom door.  One of the patients has passed out in the bathroom, but Icka covers his ears and throws himself down on the floor saying he can't stand that sound of all the running water. 

Mathilde and Icka have a session with Dr. Paul.  She says the problem is that Ickarus has just about every type of drugs on the market in his bloodstream.  He has THC, ketamine, MDMA, MDA, amphetamines, cocaine.  In fact, everything except heroin.  What concerns the doctor the most is the 40 mg of highly toxic PMA in one of the pills he takes.  PMA is a strong hallucinogenic drug.  The consumers of this drug experience a high increase in their blood pressure and an increase in their body temperature. Moreover, PMA can kill you.  She strongly advises that Icka stay in the hospital until he is off the drugs. 

Alice tells Mathilde that she has put the album on ice.  Mathilde is afraid that Icka is going to freak out when he learns about this.  The manager now says she will let Mathilde manage a couple of other DJs until Icka is better.  Mathilde declines the offer. 

Mathilde asks the owner of the club she and Icka always go to, if she can have her old job back.  The boss says she can work the door with Corinna just like the old days.  He now asks Mathilde what pill was it that did Icka in?  She says one or more of the pills had PMA in them and that's a toxic substance that can kill a person.  He demands to know who sold it to her.  She won't say, but he offers up the name of Erbse. 

Erbse is now thrown out of the club for good.  Mathilde and Corinna have drinks together and then dance together in the club. 

Icka tells Alex that he has to get away from all these crazies for awhile.  And he can't ask Dr. Paul because she isn't in her office.  So Alex tells him he can go for ten minutes just to get some cigarettes.  Icka gets on a subway.  He goes to visit Erbse to get more pills.  Alex calls Icka telling him to get back to the hospital, but Icka says no way because he is in an important meeting about his album.  Icka hangs up on Alex.  It looks like Icka is snorting cocaine.  Icka goes to the club and takes drugs.  Then he goes somewhere else and takes drugs.  He runs into Jenny again.  She asks him if he has any "party powder"?  They go into a bathroom stall and start making out again.  They have intercourse (brief nudity). 

Icka now goes home and he finds his girlfriend and Corrina naked (brief nudity) with their legs around each other and kissing each other.  He closes the bedroom door.  Mathilde comes out and tells Icka to fuck off.  He responds that he doesn't say anything about Conny.  Mathilde can screw anyone she wants.  He doesn't care.  But he really objects to Mathilde trying to boss him around.  Soon enough the three of them are having three-person sex.  (Some nudity and exposed penis.)  Icka can't sleep and when he awakens he always sees the two women sleeping arm in arm, while he is an isolate.  He finally gets up and goes to fool with his music. 

Mathilde comes out and tells Icka that they have to talk.  Alice stopped the album.  Icka goes ballistic and shouts that he is going to show that Alice what "normal" is.  Mathilde tries to stop him, but in getting away from her Icka unintentionally knocks her down. 

Icka bursts into Alice's office while she is on the phone.  She tries to keep talking to the person on the other end of the line, but Icka starts screaming at her.   She takes the call into another room and closes the door to Icka.  So now he starts wrecking the place.  He then leaves.  He snorts cocaine on the subway.  He returns to the hospital.  He goes to his room and closes the door.  Dr. Paul sends Alex down to bring Icka to her so they can talk.  Alex is a little worried by the assignment.  Icka locks himself in the room. He starts dancing to his music.  Six people now go around to the window to try to convince Icka to open the door.  Icka still refuses.  As the crew tries to open Icka's door he sneaks out another way and then just leaves the hospital behind him.  Icka now sleeps in a small park on the ground.

Icka is back on the ward.  The doctor has given him some new medication to take, but he pretends he swallows it only to spit the pill out later.  That night Icka can't sleep.  In the morning he asks Dr. Paul for permission to go see his girlfriend because he made a mistake with her.  The doctor tells him no.  He says he has to apologize to his girlfriend.  So the doctor tells him to pack his things and go see his girlfriend, but if he does, he can't come back. 

Icka goes back home.  But Mathilde has moved out of the apartment.   Only some things belonging to Icka remain in the apartment.  So Icka goes to Corinna's apartment.  Corinna says Mathilde doesn't want to see him.  Icka protests that he has to apologize to her and also wants to give her this letter saying that they owe the government 25,000 euros in back taxes.  Corinna tells Icka to wait outside the apartment and she will show the letter to Mathilde. Icka goes into the apartment and closes the door behind him.  Corinna comes back to tell him that these back taxes apply to the time period before she and Icka were together.  So it's Icka's problem.  "And she doesn't want to see you."  Icka tries to force his way past Corinna, but the tall, strong black woman grabs him and throws him out into the hall.  She then tells Icka:  "Pull yourself together and grow up, you loser."

Icka returns to see Alice.  Alice tells him to find another label.  Icka says he's come to apologize.  She says she's not lending him any money.  And, although his music isn't bad, he could never get it together.  So Icka returns to Erbse.  Then he returns to the hospital.  When he finds that his computers and keyboard are gone, he goes ballistic again.  The doctor tells him to get out now and then he can come back for his computers tomorrow.  So Icka decides to have a farewell party.  He orders two prostitutes to come to the hospital.  He tells Alex about it, but he says no party.  He leaves his post to do something and Icka grabs the keys, opens up a medicine chest and steals some medicine. 

Icka works on the patients to get them to support the idea of a farewell party.  So now most of the patients gang up on Alex to demand a party.  Icka grabs the keys again and goes out for party supplies.  He also picks up the two prostitutes. Icka plays the DJ.  He also gives everyone some pills.  Alex sucks on the breasts of one prostitute, while Icka's roommate fondles the other one. 

Dr. Paul arrives to find her ward a mess.  Two guys grab Icka and throw him out.  Mathilde comes to visit an unconscious Icka.  She has tears in her eyes as she watches him.  Later she goes in to scold Dr. Paul.  She asks her why she put a 19-year-old civilian service assistant in charge of the night shift all by himself?  Mathilde says she is calling a taxi and taking Icka home with her.  The doctor says she cannot permit that, because:  "His schizophrenic episodes are unpredictable.  He is dangerous.  I cannot be responsible for his release at this time."  Mathilde now accuses her of just using Ickarus as part of her studies so she can write a book and become famous.  Dr. Paul says:  "Ms. Maier-Telkes, when a patient is at high risk of suicide or a potential danger to others, I am not allowed to release them."  Mathilde starts crying. 

Mathilde now comes to see Icka's father.  He is playing the organ at the moment. 

Icka is really surrounded by bars now in the hospital. 

The minister goes to see Dr. Paul.  He says that Martin (Icka) was just 13 when his mother died, just as the Berlin Wall was pulled down.  Major changes accompanied the new unification of Germany.  Suddenly Martin became DJ Ickarus and he dropped out of school.  He says his brother, who is older, turned out alright, but not Martin.  He spent almost all his time in the night clubs and discotheques. 

Dad goes to see Icka.  The both hug each other very tightly.

Icka goes back to working on his music.  His brother comes to see him in the hospital.  Stefan says that he is moving to Ireland because he got a job there.  And he has a girlfriend. 

Dr. Paul visits with Icka.  He tells her that her medicine makes him sleep most of the day and night.  He falls asleep as he is talking to her. 

Mathilde speaks with Alice and begs her to listen to the new tracks that Icka has created.  Even Corinna says the new tracks rock. 

Icka returns to his old ward in the hospital.  In his room he continues to work on his tracks  His old roommate is surprised to see that he is back. 

Alice listens to the new tracks along with Mathilde.  Later Mathilde comes to see Icka at the hospital.  She tells Icka that she and Corinna are going to Budapest, Hungary to see Mathilde's mother.  And she says that Alice loves his new tracks.  She adds that Alice wants the name of the album to be:  "Berlin Calling".  Icka tells Mathilde that he misses her.  Mathilde responds that it's better this way. 

The photos for the new album are taken at the hospital.  The album comes out with Icka's photo on the front. 

Dr. Paul tells Icka that he is well enough to leave the hospital, but he must remember that he could have some schizophrenic problems in stressful situations.  She wants him to take his medication regularly and come back to see her on a regular basis. 

So Icka is a free man now.  He returns to his old apartment.  He turns the sheet music pages for his father as he plays the organ.  Alice reads to Icka the great reviews given by the music critics for Icka's music.  Icka says he is ready and able to go back to touring. 

At home he has a problem tying his shoes.  One day he flushes all his pills down the toilet.

It looks like Icka may relapse again.  He walks on the subway tracks for awhile and watches as the subway comes in.  At home he is a bit paranoid.  His doorbell rings and it's the two people he shouldn't see:  Jenny and Erbse.  They try to get Icka to try some cocaine again.  He puts it all in a pile and then shoves it off the table into a glass.  Icka tells Erbse he will pay him for the drugs.  He walks out leaving Erbse and Jenny in his apartment.  He goes over to Corinna's apartment to see Mathilde. 

Icka is back playing at his old club.  This time, however, he's not on drugs. 

Mathilde and Icka are at the airport waiting for their flight. 


Well, the short summary of the film mentioned that the film is about a young East German musician who cannot adjust to the changes in his life that came with the changes associated with the fall of the Berlin wall.  In a sense, this is true, but actually the film itself is about a person being destroyed by drugs.  The fellow gets worse and worse over time.  He loses everything:  his record contract and his beloved girlfriend.  He ends up in the hospital.  And he causes the staff there a million problems.  He won't settle down and cooperate with the program to try to get better.  His case gets so hopeless, that you sense a real tragedy coming on. Another depressing historical film?  Not so fast.  DJ Ickarus finally reaches bottom and starts coming back again a bit at a time. 

So the film is a good one.  I enjoyed watching it.  But it would make a weak historical film and it is better left to people who want to watch a film dealing with the problems associated with drug addiction per se.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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