Guides (2009)

  |  Comedy

A privileged young American starts a free tour company in Berlin and wreaks havoc, with guides turning on each other in an effort to defend their jobs and tenuous lives in the expat community.

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13 February 2013 | Harold_Boss
| amazing low budget movie about the infamous berlin walking tours
This is a remarkable (and apparently almost totally unknown) movie about the infamous Berlin walking tours. To fully appreciate this movie you need to have lived in Berlin for a stretch, or at the very least have vistied and been on the walking tours.

The movie tells the story of how the "free walking tours" were born and how the concept spread across Europe (nowdays you can find a "free" tour in pretty much every major western city). The movie is presented as a faux documentary - mostly it consists of actors playing the roles of contemporary tour guides, who are being interviewed on camera. I have to admit that for a while I presumed that these were genuine guides, and only later I twigged that they were actors. I guess this means the acting is superb! Some scenes are shown as flashbacks, which somewhat compromises the documentary mode but that didn't bother me too much.

The central character is "Nick", a thinly veiled Chris Sandeman. He is presented as a fairly vile, selfish and ruthless person. In one memorable scene he sacks a worker because they reveal to his girlfriend that he has been cheating on her. Some of the other characters are also not terribly nice, but it's undeniable that Nick is the bad guy here. For a while I was thinking that the whole movie was in fact an elaborate revenge on Sandeman, perhaps orchestrated by the (apparently innumerable) people he stepped on in his quest for power. However on reflection I decided that this movie was actually a genuine and unspecific attempt at comedy, one which merely took advantage of the Berlin guides phenomenon.

This movie is great but it probably has a limited audience. It's very funny but there are a lot of in jokes. I suspect the biggest fans are going to be folks who are working in the tourist or backpacker industry, and as mentioned previously, folks who love Berlin.

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Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Berlin, Germany

Box Office


$50,000 (estimated)

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