13 Great German Films You Should Be Watching

The winter season is a time for lounging around on the sofa, eating continuously and watching as many films as possible. So here are some great German films to get you started.

A Coffee in Berlin, Jan Ole Gerster, 2012

Shot in black and white, ‘A Coffee in Berlin’ tells the melancholic story of a mid-twenties law school dropout Niko and his absurd interactions. A gentle comment on generation Y living in Berlin and the prolonged adolescence of today’s youth.

Watch the trailer here.

Run Lola Run, Tom Tykwer (1998)

After losing a bag containing 100,000 deutsche marks on the subway Lola and her boyfriend, Manni, must find the money again and deliver it to a gangster or Manni will likely be killed. The only catch is the only has 20 minutes to do it…

Watch the trailer here.

Lives of Others, Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, 2006

A great depiction of what life was like in 1980’s East Berlin, if not a little stylised. And a great insight into the methods and practices of the Stasi, the secret police for the East German government. It’s an endearing story following one agent as he re-assesses the morality of his actions.

Watch the trailer here.

Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2004

Probably the most accurate portrayal of Hitler you will see on the big screen. A fantastic glimpse into the chaos of the closing days of the war, and how the Nazis were able to carry on fighting until the very end.

Watch the trailer here.

Wings of Desire, Wim Wenders, 1987

In wings of desire you are shown a divided Berlin through the perspectives of two angels as they hover over the city. They are only observers taking notes, and cannot change anything or take part, but occasionally descend to comfort a man contemplating suicide, or listen to the thoughts of the people on the streets. The film is beautifully shot with great views of Berlin over the wall.

Watch the trailer here.

Christiane F, Uli Edel, 1981

Based on actual events, this film illustrates the horrific and heart breaking experiences of a young girl, Christiane, who between the ages of 13 and 15 descends from being a typical teenage girl with normal and relatively mild problems, to funding a serious drug addiction with prostitution and surviving on the brink of death.

Watch the trailer here.

Good Bye Lenin!, Wolfgang Becker, 2003

On the verge of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a mother falls into a coma and does not wake until after its collapse. Her son must now keep up the illusion that the wall never fell to protect her from any dramatic shocks to the system. Black comedy with an excellent sound track by Yann Tiersen.

Watch the trailer here.

The Baader Meinhof Complex, Uli Edel, 2008

When a peaceful protest in West Germany turns violent, Meinhof, a journalist and pacifist, turns to other methods of opposition and becomes involved with the violent RAF. The Rote Armee Fraktion were a militant group active between 1970 and 1998 who sought to oppose what they perceived as a fascist and imperialist West German government.

Watch the trailer here.

Germany Year Zero, Roberto Rossellini (1948)

Shot on location in war-torn Berlin this film offers you amazing footage of the extent of Berlin’s destruction and also depicts the tough experiences of ordinary Berliners in the aftermath of the allied invasion and obliteration of the city centre.

Watch the full movie here.

Generation War: Our Mothers, Our Fathers, 2013

Ok, so not strictly a film but more of a TV mini-series. Think Band of Brothers but from a German perspective, Generation War follows 5 close friends from the eve of the invasion on the eastern front until the end of the war. What was quite interesting was the aftermath of this production, over 7 million Germans tuned in to watch Generation War and has been very controversial with praise and criticisms from respected historians. The war generation, the witnesses to these events are all soon to be gone, so the next few years will be the last chance for dialogue with these people.

Watch the trailer here.

Lore, Cate Shortland, 2012

Lore is an indoctrinated child of a high-ranking SS officer who has to make her way through occupied Germany after the end of the war. Her parents head off to a POW camp after burning their documents and leave Lore in charge of her younger siblings. As she makes her way through a defeated Germany, certain truths are revealed to her.

Watch the trailer here.

Barbara, Christian Petzold, 2012

Set in 1980’s East Germany, Barbara is the tale of a doctor has been relegated to a remote country side hospital after trying to apply for an exit visa to the west. She has been given a state owned apartment and is under constant surveillance from the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police force.

Watch the trailer here.

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days, Marc Rothermund, 2005

Sophie Scholl was a member of the non-violent White Rose group, an active resistance group in Nazi Germany. The film focuses on her last days and prosecution after she was caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at her university.

Watch the trailer here.

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