Bridge of Spies film locations in where now? Row-claw? Get outta town!
Yup, I’ve just returned from a wee city break in the southwest Polish city of Wrocław, a beautiful and compact town close to the German and Czech Republic borders. You wouldn’t think such an unassuming little city would even be on Steven Spielberg’s radar. But somewhere needed to fill in for 1950s East Berlin, am I right?
Bridge of Spies (2015) directed by Steven Spielberg follows a suspected Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and his lawyer James B. Donovan (the ever-charming Tom Hanks) embroiled in cold war chaos. The Russian spy on American soil must be traded for an American spy currently on Russian soil. But the logistics and the wherewithal to try and pull off such a task is a political nightmare. Bridge of Spies is based on a true story and is set in New York City/Brooklyn as well as east and west Berlin.
Wrocław is key to bringing East Berlin in the 1950s to life in this film. Check out all the Bridge of Spies film locations in Wrocław here!
Bridge of Spies Film Locations in Wrocław
Why was Wrocław used as a filming location in Bridge of Spies?
The trouble with period films is that cities and towns are malleable spirits and they never stay the same way for long. This couldn’t be truer for a city like Berlin. We all know that Berlin was divided via a wall after the end of World War II during the cold war. West Berlin was occupied by the French, American and British Allies whilst the Soviet Union occupied the East. East Berlin was harshly undeveloped, left in ruins and essentially, not a nice place to live.
Which is why it’s kind of a backhanded compliment that Production Designer Adam Stockhausen chose Wrocław as a stand-in for East Berlin in Bridge of Spies. Fresh off his Oscar win for designing The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Stockhausen wanted a place that not only seemed frozen in time but would best represent the damage and dilapidation of East Berlin in the 1950s.
Oh, and they also had to be able to build a 300 ft (about 90m) lifesize Berlin Wall. That last part is important.
The East Berlin scenes were primarily shot in the, erm, slightly run down Nadodrze neighbourhood in north Wrocław. It’s slightly out of the main city centre, a bit quieter and not somewhere tourists would usually visit.
But at the same time, it’s not a bad neighbourhood. It doesn’t literally look like a bomb’s just hit it. It could just to with a bit of TLC.
The exact filming locations used in Bridge of Spies
As I said, the main filming locations were in the Nadodrze neighbourhood. Primarily Kurkowa which leads onto Ptasia (look at the map above if you can’t find them yourself). And apparently, they used Mennicza in the southeast of the city, as well as some parts of Berlin itself.
They built huge sets and extra worse-for-wear buildings on the several car parks and empty lots on these streets to add to the overall run-down feel of the neighbourhood. Pretty clever, really. It actually looks quite unrecognisable in the film! Without the extra space in the middle of the streets, they would have been much more limited in what they could do to alter the look of modern-day Wrocław.
And it’s worth noting all of the streets have essential period features. They all have cobbled pavements and the houses, bar the odd few, are certainly pre-war or almost as old. Anyone can immediately see the potential in a place like this. The Bridge of Spies production team and location scouts surely did!
All of the Bridge of Spies Filming Locations:
That’s everything I got up to when I visited the Bridge of Spies film locations in Wrocław in Poland! Have you visited Wrocław or any of the other Bridge of Spies film locations before? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks to Wrocław.pl for the information on which streets were used in filming! I couldn’t have written this blog post without it.