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Top 10 German Movies to Watch Before You Die

German Movies

It is quite hard to believe that the quality of movies in the German language is so good that most of them get nominated for Oscars and other big awards.

It is quite ironical that the cinema in Germany is predominantly based on America, considering Germany’s contribution to the world cinema. Right from the early days of Cinema, both the Germans and Austrians were the pioneers of European cinema, maintaining a steady flow of fantastic films. Given below is a list of Top 10 German films; it is just indicative and not exhaustive.

Special Mention

Definitely, World War II based movies from the Deutschers point of view will reveal a different dimension and value to the content than regular Hollywood flicks in that subject.

Some notable movies include Stalingrad(1993) directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, 13 Minutes by  Oliver Hirschbiegel, Sophie Scholl – The Final Days which released in the year 2002.

All great films will have something great which will touch the right string in the heart and connect with the audience unconditionally. In that way, Julie Jentsch’s subtle but stunning performance in Sophie Scholl, and for the riveting screenplay in 13 Minutes, the surprises this kind of films offer will never cease to exist.

However, Stalingrad(1993) provided arresting visuals along with nice heartwarming music composed by Martin Grassl and Norbert Jürgen Schneider.

Promising Directors

Among various promising directors on the horizon of German Cinema, Fatih Akin’s cinema revolves around a repeated theme, the struggles, and confusions of German Turks.

For telling the story as riveting as possible, he won the best screenplay award for his movie

“ The Edge of Heaven” which got released in the year 2007.

Another director who is known for making movies with simple themes but presents it in an aesthetic manner is none other than Tom Tykwer. His runway hit Run Lola Run (1998) collected more than US$ 23 million worldwide.


Das Boot (The boat)

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imdb    Imdb:    8.4/10
meta    Metacritic:    86%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   98%
Release Date: 17 September 1981
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Cast: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann
Distributed By: Neue Constantin Film
Music By: Klaus Doldinger
Language: German
Country: Germany
Running Time: 149 minutes
Awards: Nominated for Academy awards
Budget: 32 million DM
Box Office: $84.9 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

“Das Boot” which is commonly known as “The boat” released in the year 1981. This German classic was directed and written by Wolfgang Petersen and the production was handled by Günter Rohrbach. The major roles in the movie were played by Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann.The movie was telecasted as a theatrical show, mini-series TV shows and also as various home video series.

It was adapted from a German novel which was written by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. The novel is about the U-96 and it’s the crew. This movie is one of the best made German War films with its tight narration and direction.


Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Generation War)

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imdb    Imdb:    8.1/10
meta    Metacritic:    57%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   61%
Release Date: 17 March 2013
Director: Philipp Kadelbach
Cast: Volker Bruch, Tom Schilling, Katharina Schüttler, Miriam Stein, Ludwig Trepte
Distributed By: Beta Film
Music By: Fabian Romer
Language: German, Polish
Country: German
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Awards: International Emmy Award 2014
Budget: €10 million
Box Office: $87 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

The story is about how a team of five friends in Berlin (1941) responds to the German invasion of the U.S.S.R (Soviet Union) and how it affects their lives totally.

Officer Wilhelm is all set to return to the eastern front along with his younger sibling Friedhelm, whose interest in literature is far stronger than his love for the army. The movie goes on with Charlotte a nurse falling in love with Wilhelm and Greta who is a skilled singer looks forward to becoming a sensation like Marlene Dietrich. The story takes a turn when Wilhelm is charged with desertion, and Greta sells herself to an SS colonel just to help Viktor escape.

A TV series clipped together as a movie is worth watching for the German invasion of the Soviet Union and its aftermath thereafter.


Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex (The Baader-Meinhof Complex)

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imdb    Imdb:    7.4/10
meta    Metacritic:    76%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   85%
Release Date: 25 September 2008
Director: Uli Edel
Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, Johanna Wokalek
Distributed By: Constantin Film Verleih (Germany), Metropolitan Filmexport (France), Bontonfilm (Czech Republic)
Music By: Peter Hinderthür, Florian Tessloff
Language: German, English, French, Swedish
Country: Germany,France, Czech Republic
Running Time: 164 minutes
Awards: Academy Awards
Budget: €13.5 million
Box Office: $16,498,827
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Released in the year 2008, The Baader Meinhof Complex is a German movie that was directed by Uli Edel. Bernd Eichinger had written and produced the movie along with Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, and Johanna Wokalek in the lead roles. This movie is based on a bestseller in German “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex” which was written by Stefan Aust. The film is about the historical events and accounts in the German history. It retraces the early times of West Germany when the militant outfit called as the “Red Army Fraction” or “Red Army Faction a.k.an RAF” wrecked havoc during the 1967-1977 period.

Watch it for good storyline and music.



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imdb    Imdb:    7.2/10
meta    Metacritic:    86%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   93%
Release Date: 11 February 2012
Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Mark Waschke, Rainer Bock
Distributed By: The Match factory
Music By: Stefan Will
Language: German
Country: Germany
Running Time: 105 minutes
Awards: Academy Award
Box Office: $3.1 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Christian Petzold who directed this movie “Barbara” is regarded as an intelligent director in German film circles. It competed in February 2012 at the 62nd Berlin international film festival. At the festival, Petzold was awarded the best director award. The movie was also selected for the Academy awards under the best foreign language category; however, unfortunately, it couldn’t make it to the nominations.

This movie is a premium watch for all cinema lovers who prefer watching slow classic art films. This movie focuses on the life of a doctor in East Germany before unification. Barbara, the main character in the movie is sent to a hospital to serve a punishment. It is a beautiful movie to watch, no gunshots or violence yet filled with heartfelt emotions.


Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)

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imdb    Imdb:    8.5/10
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rt    Rotten tomatoes:   
Release Date: 23 March 2006
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Cast: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Distributed By: Buena Vista International
Music By: Gabriel Yared, Stéphane Moucha
Language: German
Country: Germany
Running Time: 137 minutes
Awards: Golden Globe award
Budget: $2 million
Box Office: $77.3 Million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

This German movie released in the year 2006. This particular drama was the debut movie of Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck. The movie shows the secret lives of East Berlin people who were spied upon by GDR’s secret police. Ulrich Muhe stars as a stasi captain Gerd Wielser, Ulrich Tukur plays the role of superior Anton Grubitz, while Sevastian Koch took up the role of playwright Georg Dreyman and Martina Gedeck plays the role of Dreyman’s lover.

The movie was released on 23 March 2006 across Germany. The Lives of Others bagged the 2006 Academy award in the best foreign language category. The movie received many accolades and also received a record eleven nominations at the Deutscher Filmpreis awards. With its budget of $2 million dollars, it earned about 77 million US dollars across the world. It is a must watch as it is regarded as one of the best films in German cinema.


Good Bye, Lenin!

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imdb    Imdb:    7.7/10
meta    Metacritic:    68%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   90%
Release Date: 13 February 2003
Director: Wolfgang Becker
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, Maria Simon, Alexander Beyer
Distributed By: X Verleih AG (Germany)
Music By: Yann Tiersen, Claire Pichet, Antonello Marafioti
Language: German
Country: Germany
Running Time: 121 minutes
Awards: German Film Award and European film Award
Budget: €4.8 million
Box Office: $79,384,880
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Released in the year 2003, Good Bye Lenin is a tragic comedy movie. A young man’s struggle to protect his mother from knowing the harsh reality of Berlin War collapse and the turn of events associated with it, Good Bye Lenin is a tragicomedy by Wolfgang Becker. It stars Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova, and Maria Simon. The movie was mostly filmed at Berlin’s Karl-Marx-Allee and in the areas surrounding Plattenbauten located near Alexanderplatz.

With the likes of GDR and East Berlin crossing ones’ mind, it is quite difficult to be happy and cheerful. However, this movie takes us surprisingly on a comedy strand with its strong storyline. The tragic comedy pinch of the movie is carried forward by a young chap who is an East Berliner known as Alex. In order to protect his bedridden mother, Alex and his family go to great lengths to hide the truth about the new Germany from her.

It is comical, yet emotional movie to watch.


Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa)

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imdb    Imdb:    7.7/10
meta    Metacritic:    72%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   85%
Release Date: 27 December 2001
Director: Caroline Link
Cast: Juliane Köhler, Merab Ninidze
Distributed By: Zeitgeist Films
Music By: Niki Reiser
Language: German, English, Swahili
Country: Germany
Running Time: 141 minutes
Awards: Academy Award
Budget: €7 million
Box Office: $6.180 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Nowhere in Africa is a German movie which released in the year 2001 and was directed and scripted by Caroline Link. The movie is based on a novel called Nowhere in Africa written by Stefanie Zweig. The storyline of the movie is based on how a German Jewish family in the year 1938 in order to escape from the Nazi Germany move to Kenya and how they embrace relocation. The movie was awarded the best foreign language category award at the Oscars and also earned widespread recognition at various film festivals and award ceremonies.

This movie is a classical piece of art which was shot majorly in Kenya. The movie portrays the incidents and emotions of a refugee family which migrates to a tiny farm in the mid parts of Kenya just before the start of Second World War.

With a strong narration and arresting visuals, this movie is truly a moving piece of art.


Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters)

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imdb    Imdb:    7.6/10
meta    Metacritic:    78%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   94%
Release Date: 22 March 2007
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Cast: Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow
Distributed By: Filmladen (Austria), Universum Film (Germany)
Music By: Marius Ruhland
Language: German, Russian, English, Hebrew
Country: Austria and Germany
Running Time: 98 minutes
Awards: Academy Awards
Budget: $6,250,000
Box Office: $20,199,663
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Stefan Ruzowitzky has written and directed this movie, which received rave reviews when it got released in the year 2007.This movie is a true account of one of the biggest and rarest counterfeiting activities in history, created in 1936.The Nazis were behind this operation. The movie is centered on the Jewish counterfeiter who is named Salomon “Sally” Sorowitsch who is considered as the brain behind this operation that takes place at a Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

The movie is a depiction of the memoir which was written by Adolf Burger who was behind the bars in 1942 for a criminal act of forging baptismal certificates. Being a Jewish Slovak typographer he committed the crime in order to protect the deportation of the Jews. During the making of the movie, Ruzowitsky had been in touch with Burger at almost every stage of the film, right from the writing and production activities. The movie bagged the best foreign language award at the Oscars and it’s a wartime time movie brilliantly made.


Der Untergang (Downfall)

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imdb    Imdb:    8.3/10
meta    Metacritic:    82%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   91%
Release Date: 16 September 2004
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Cast: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler, Heino Ferch, Christian Berkel, Matthias Habich, Thomas Kretschmann
Distributed By: Constantin Film (Germany, Austria), 01 Distribution (Italy), Monolith Films (Poland), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (United States, DVD)
Music By: Stephan Zacharias
Language: German
Country: Germany, Italy, Austria
Running Time: 178 minutes
Awards: Academy Award
Budget: €13.5 million
Box Office: $92.2 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

“Downfall”, the German Italian Austrian movie is a movie based on historical war sequences. The movie belongs to the drama genre category which was released in the year 2004. The simple plotline of the movie is about the last ten days of rule by Adolf Hitler at Nazi Germany in the year 1945. The movie depicts various historical happening during that period. The direction of the movie was done by Oliver Hirschbiegal and was produced and written by Bernd Eichinger. The movie was critically acclaimed after its release and was also on the nomination list of Academy award for best foreign language film.

Being Oscar nominated, the movie gained popularity even outside Germany. Hitler’s role was played by Bruno Ganz and it was quite convincing.

Watch it and feel the difference.


Die Welle

Not rated yet
imdb    Imdb:    7.6/10
meta    Metacritic:    68%
rt    Rotten tomatoes:   65%
Release Date: 18 January 2008
Director: Dennis Gansel
Cast: Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt, Jennifer Ulrich
Distributed By: Constantin Film
Music By: Heiko Maile
Language: German
Country: Germany
Running Time: 107 minutes
Awards: European Film Award
Budget: €5 million
Box Office: €23.679 million
Available at: Amazon Netflix Youtube

Die Welle is a socio-political thriller which got released in 2008. Dennis Gansel took up the direction of the movie which stars Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau, Jennifer Ulrich and Max Riemelt in the lead roles. The movie traces the research work done by Ron Jones, commonly known as the third wave. The Production work of the movie was carried on by Christian Becker from Rat Pack film production.This movie was a good success at the German cinema box-office as it recorded 2.3 million hits in just ten weeks after its release.

It was a movie which was made based on a true incident where a teacher in California plans to carry out experiments in order to teach the high schools students about the relevance of Nazi ideologies. The movie concentrates on the central theme -whether fascism could still survive in the modern era. At the end, viewers fail to get a clear picture and left to decide for themselves.

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