Today is the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the fall of the Berlin Wall. People started taking it down this day, 9 November 1989. Google broke with its own tradition today to put a video Doodle on their home page in stead of the usual graphic or animation.
I love Google Doodles and it is praiseworthy that Google uses its massive global reach to remind users of important moments in history like this one. Yet again, it proves the power of images and sound combined with words to communicate and, more importantly, elicit emotion. While there have been many other gems of Doodles that I’ve wanted to keep (in other words, download), Google Doodles just cannot be downloaded as standalone files. So I have captured it with other software.
According to Ryan Germick & Liat Ben-Rafael of this Google Doodle Team, looking at their local chunk of wall, “this graffitied chunk of concrete, once a literal division, has been transformed into a symbol of unity, a reminder to passersby of the triumph of the collective human spirit.” To make this Doodle, 17 international film crews gathered footage, the German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv) provided archival photographs by Klaus Lehnartz (1936–2008) and Heiko Specht (b. 1961), Googlers from around the world translated more than 50 international versions, Morgan Stiff edited it and Nils Frahm (b. 1982) composed the video’s beautiful – and perfectly synchronized – music. To listen to the original, find it in the Google Doodle archives.
I have added my own soundtrack to the video because of problems with capturing the online soundtrack. I chose an extract of To The Unknown Man by Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, a.k.a. Vangelis, from his album, Spiral, performed by L’Orchestra Cinematique (The Cinematic Orchestra). I thought that the piece fitted this video because of all those thousands of unknown people who helped to tear down the wall – those disembodied hands wielding hammers, those nameless faces in the crowds, the anonymous shouters and singers. Praise for the heroism seen in those days must go to them, whoever they were, wherever they are today.
Frahm recalls the day the wall started coming down:
“I was 7 years old when thousands of East German signature cars arrived in my hometown Hamburg and filled the air with odd smelling blue smoke. I saw strangers hugging strangers, tears in their eyes, their voices tired from singing. I was too young to understand, but I felt that life was different now and that different was better. Now it is our obligation to tell this story to all those who couldn’t be there, who could not feel the spark of the peaceful revolution themselves and more importantly who can’t remember how existence feels when its incarcerated by concrete walls. It is time to celebrate 25 years of unity.”