Five great german language films

Learn languages June 11, 2010


Watching foreign language films is one of the best ways to improve your language skills, especially when they are subtitled. Not only do you get a chance to improve your vocabulary, but you get a real glimpse inside another culture.

German language cinema is particularly strong. Many of the most critically-acclaimed and commercially successful German films of recent years are based on dark themes of war, repression and Germany’s troubled twentieth century. But don’t let a little misery put you off!

Here are five great German language films:

Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) Germany 2006 

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

The Lives of Others is an Oscar-winning portrait of life in 1980s East Germany. In an environment where all creative output is filtered by the Communist government and an estimated one in six East Germans informs for the Stasi (secret police), paranoia reigns.

The film tells the story of dyed in the wool Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler (played by Ulrich Mühe) as he carries out an assignment on liberal playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch).

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s debut feature film was nominated for 11 German movie awards and is often cited by critics as one of the finest films produced in any language. Highly recommended.

Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) Austria 2007

Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky

The Counterfeiters tells the story of the number one counterfeiter in 1930s Berlin, Salomon ‘Sally’ Sorowitsch, and his wartime experiences in the Mauthausen and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. The tagline “It takes a clever man to make money, it takes a genius to stay alive” gives some indication of the plot, which is based on the real life attempts of Nazi Germany to forge foreign currency as their war effort failed.

Another Oscar winner and not as bleak as the subject matter may suggest.

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (The Edukators) Germany 2004

Director: Hans Weingartner

Attractive young anti-capitalists make a stand against those mean fat cats that, like, own everything, man. But everything does not go according to plan as history, self doubt and Daniel Brühl’s irresistible charm become issues.

An enjoyable drama with a message.

Indien (India) Austria 1993

Director: Paul Harather

A light-hearted tale of two Austrian health inspectors who are forced to work together and end up becoming fast friends. Although you may struggle to find a copy with English subtitles, fear not… because of the sometimes unintelligible Austrian dialects, the film was also subtitled in Germany!

A great film if you want to discover Austrian culture.

Das Boot (“The Boat”) Germany 1981 

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Long before the days of settling down to watch a whole series of The Wire in one sitting, came Das Boot.

Nominated for six Oscars, 293 minutes long in its full, uncut glory, Das Boot is the big daddy of German cinema. Telling the story of 42 recruits on a German U-Boat, it’s a masterpiece in suspense, emotion and taut writing.

Don’t be put off by the length; you could always watch the edited version at a mere 149 minutes.

By esl-blogger

What do you think?