Welcome to Frankfurt, Norway New 'A-Team' Film Gets 'F' for Geography

Cologne's cathedral in Frankfurt, German border guards speaking Norwegian, a misplaced US Embassy -- the new "A-Team" film seems to have a rather loose relationship with geography.

Cologne's cathedral is not actually located in Frankfurt.

Cologne's cathedral is not actually located in Frankfurt.

A quick geography quiz. True or false: Germans speak Norwegian. Too easy? OK, how about this one: Cologne Cathedral is in Frankfurt. Hmmm, still too simple, perhaps. Let's try one more. The German city Frankfurt am Main is the same as the city Frankfurt an der Oder.

One hardly needs much basic knowledge to know that the answer to all three questions is clearly "false." But what might be common knowledge for some appears to be slightly beyond the grasp of the makers of the new Hollywood action thriller "The A-Team." The film's posters may proclaim that "there is no plan B." There is, however, a big fat "F" -- for German geography.

One scene in the film -- which opened in the US at the beginning of June, before finally hitting the big screen in Germany last Thursday -- has particularly furrowed brows among moviegoers on this side of the Atlantic. In a scene which purports to be a bird's-eye view of the train station in the German banking center Frankfurt am Main, one can clearly see Cologne Cathedral jutting up into the sky next to the Cologne main station -- beautiful, perhaps, but fully 192 kilometers (120 miles) up the autobahn.

German Border Guards in Norway -- or Vice Versa

But there's more. According to the Internet Movie Database, one of the characters, Pike, is arrested in Frankfurt and brought to the US Embassy in the city for interrogation. The only problem, however, is that while there is a US consulate in Frankfurt, the US Embassy in Germany is located in faraway Berlin.

And then there is the language question. At one point in the film, two members of the A-Team fly into what is supposed to be Germany -- only to have their passports checked at the "passkontroll" desk by officers wearing uniforms proclaiming "politi." To be generous, the language is indeed close to the "Passkontrolle" and "Polizei" one would find in Germany. But in this case, close is around 500 kilometers away -- in Norway.

Which is just a shade more than the distance between Frankfurt am Main and the eastern German city of Frankfurt an der Oder on the border with Poland. Who cares? In one scene in "The A-Team" -- supposedly set in downtown Frankfurt am Main -- the cars sport license plates beginning with FF, the auto abbreviation for Frankfurt an der Oder.

But no matter. As the German press has pointed out, at least it was just a bit of geographical creativity. And, at the end of the film, Cologne's cathedral was still standing -- which can't be said for the 2008 film "The Day the Earth Stood Still." In one scene in that film, Cologne Cathedral is destroyed entirely.


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