The 7 Best German Movies Ever Made

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When you think of Germany, what comes to mind? Do you think of their cars? Their economy? Their enormous variety of sausages? How far down the list does their film industry place?

If you are a movie buff, then the chances are it is right there up at the top. For those of you that are more familiar with mainstream movies, then this is definitely the list for you. These German movies were raging successes both with audiences and critics.

They have contributed to German movies winning more Oscars this millennium than every other foreign language competitor. This list goes on to prove that Germans can basically do anything that they set their minds to.

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The Lives of Others (2006)

This drama was released in 2006 and went on to win Best Foreign Language Film in the 2006 Academy Awards. The film dealt with a topic which can even be considered controversial today.

The main character is Gerd Wiesler, who is a Stasi agent that was instructed to spy on a playwright in Berlin. The director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck did not highlight this point in history by using comedy, like his predecessors, and he did not portray characters who were solely good or evil.

Instead, this movie is about a relatable person. One who is conflicted and one who is capable of change. He was also able to capture the essence of East Berlin masterfully.

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Good Bye, Lenin! (2003)

Wolfgang Becker decided to use comedy to tell the story of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In this tragic comedy, we find a young man, played by Daniel Bruhl. When his mother wakes up from a coma after the Wall has fallen, he and his sister do everything in their power to hide this from her.

They do this in an attempt to save their mother from the added stress from a changing regime. This includes tampering with the news, food, and TV which she watches in the comfort of her apartment. Becker managed to grapple with the controversial topic of nostalgia for East Germany in a comical and yet endearing way.

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Das Boot (1981)

This German war epic delivered authenticity and relatability all in one swoop. The entire film was shot on two models which were full-scale replicas of the original German submarine, the U-96. 

The film follows the fictional crew of said U-boat in World War II. They are not, however, just faceless soldiers in one of the biggest and worst wars this world has ever seen.

They are individuals who have hopes, dreams and who are striving to do what is best for their people and their country.

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Run Lola Run (1998)

You have 20 minutes to come up with 100 000 Deutsche Marks, or your boyfriend will die. What do you do? This is the dilemma which Lola is faced with.

The film runs through 3 different sequences or runs. They each start in the exact same place, but each run is filled with different encounters and events.

In the three different runs, Lola’s interactions set off a change of events in the various individual’s lives. German film culture is given many nods in this film, while the intriguing dynamic between cause and effect is artfully explored.

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Downfall (2004)

With this 2004 film, we head back to the Oscars. While it did not win in its nominated category, it has been praised for its authenticity by probably the most noteworthy of sources, an actual historian.

The film is another war epic and is about one of the most notorious characters of all time. Hitler is portrayed by Bruno Ganz, and his performance is credited by a renowned Hitler biographer and historian as being the most compelling one ever given. Viewers are given a haunting and eerie look into the last few days of Hitler’s rule.

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Head-On (2004)

After attempting to commit suicide, Cahit and Sibel are admitted to the psychiatric ward of a Hamburg hospital. Sibel is desperate to put some distance between herself and her Muslim family.

This is where the Turkish born Cahit comes in. If they were to marry each other, they might just be able to gain some autonomy from their families. While feelings do develop during the charade, this is no romantic comedy.

Director Fatih Akin takes this opportunity to explore controversial topics and the struggles facing immigrants in Germany. The film won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival and leaves its viewers with more questions than answers concerning ethnic identity in Germany.

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Toni Erdmann (2016)

How does a parent go about reconnecting with their child? In Maren Ade’s 2016 film, Winfried Conradi is tasked with doing just that. Adding to the already sizeable task is the generational mismatch.

He comes from a time when the Berlin Wall still stood while his daughter is a fully-fledged member of the new capitalist regime. While there are some, who say that this movie is more about humor as opposed to being a comedy in itself. It is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face and possibly a very real glow in your heart. 

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