19 December 2019

Hamburg, Germany



 
The third film directed by Anton Corbijn, A MOST WANTED MAN, is based on the book of the same name by John le Carré from 2008. The story is set in Hamburg, where the author worked as a British agent and consul. Warning: the text may give away details of the plot.
 
Anton Corbijn, Rachel McAdams and Willem Dafoe during
filming in the lobby of hotel Atlantic, as seen in
The Making of A Most Wanted Man, 0:06:58
Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), a Russian-Chechen refugee, illegally comes to Hamburg in the hope of receiving the fortune left to him by his deceased father. Immigration lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) brings him into contact with British banker Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe). They are soon noticed by a German anti-terror unit led by Günther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and also the American security service, represented by diplomatic attaché Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright), has taken an interest.

Filming took place between 21 September and 23 November 2012 at more than 30 locations in Hamburg. A few scenes were filmed in Berlin. In the movie, Hamburg appears gray and dark, which enhances the grim atmosphere of the story. During our visit the city did not make such a gloomy impression.
 
At the beginning of the film, Günther Bachmann meets The Admiral (Martin Wuttke) at the Zum Silbersack cafe. He is a shady figure who knows more about the whereabouts of Issa Karpov. The cafe really exists and is located on Silbersackstraße 9, a side street of the Reeperbahn. This area looked pretty beat up. Two scenes were filmed inside the cafe, but during our visit the place was closed.

A Most Wanted Man, 0:10:49
Cafe Zum Silbersack, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

In the evening Günther Bachmann and his assistant Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) are watching the Atlantic Kempinski hotel where Annabel Richter is meeting Tommy Brue. The hotel is also mentioned in the book and can also be seen in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. The lobby was also used for filming, but the hotel does not allow photographing inside. For Philip Seymour Hoffman the Atlantic hotel was familiar territory, he stayed there years earlier when he appeared in a play in Hamburg.

A Most Wanted Man, 0:30:54
Holzdamm, Hamburg, 25 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 0:31:39
Atlantic Kempinski hotel, Hamburg, 25 June 2019

When Brue leaves the hotel, a blue ceramic portrait of Wilhelm II (1859-1941) can be seen through the revolving glass door. He was the kaiser of Germany when the hotel was opened in 1909. In the featurette Spymaster: John le Carré in Hamburg, which is on the dvd as a bonus, John le Carré visits the hotel and says that Wilhelm II hated the British Queen Victoria so much that he wanted to destroy the British navy.

A Most Wanted Man, 0:31:24
Atlantic Kempinski hotel, Hamburg, 25 June 2019
Spymaster: John le Carré in Hamburg, 0:06:16
Atlantic Kempinski hotel, Hamburg, 25 June 2019

The film ends with a confrontation involving all main characters. This scene was filmed on Johannes-Brahms-Platz, a square named after the Hamburg-born composer. Karpov and Richter, together with philanthropist Dr. Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), have just visited Brue's bank. The building is the Brahms Kontor which was under construction during our visit.

A Most Wanted Man, 1:42:40
Brahms Kontor, Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:43:11
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

When they leave the bank, Bachmann poses as a taxi driver, but it turns out that Sullivan and her German colleague Dieter Mohr (Rainer Bock, standing on the balcony) have lured them into ambush. Both Karpov and Abdullah are arrested, leaving the others defeated in the square.

A Most Wanted Man, 1:47:52
Brahms Kontor, Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:48:44
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:48:57
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:49:07
Brahms Kontor, Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:49:10
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:49:40
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019
A Most Wanted Man, 1:49:42
Johannes-Brahms-Platz, Hamburg, 27 June 2019

Screenshots © Film4/Demarest Films