Languages › German Best German Films for German-Learners Share Flipboard Email Print Oktay Ortakcioglu / Getty Images German History & Culture Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Grammar By Hyde Flippo German Expert Hyde Flippo taught the German language for 28 years at high school and college levels and published several books on the German language and culture. our editorial process Hyde Flippo Updated January 30, 2019 Which German movies are best for German-learners? Many of my readers already know that I'm a big fan of German cinema. I even have an entire Web site devoted to the German-Hollywood Connection. It's sort of a hobby of mine. I'm also a firm advocate of showing German films in the classroom. Movies in German can be a great benefit to anyone learning German—if the teacher and/or student knows how to go about it. In that vein, I wrote an article for the Fall 1993 issue of Die Unterrichtspraxis entitled “Marlene Dietrich in the German Classroom” which was about a German film project that I have done with my high school students over the years. With a suitable approach, even “ancient” black-and-white movies like “Der blaue Engel” (1930) can be successfully turned into a learning experience for 16-year-old students. But when Franka Potente burst onto the scene in “Run Lola Run,” German teachers finally had something very modern to work with. My students love that movie! I love that movie! But if you want to learn German, you can't just casually watch “Lola rennt” or any other German film, so I developed some “Lola” worksheets for classroom use. But what other films are best for German-learners? Obviously, everyone will have their own opinion, and some films are more suitable than others. There are certain criteria we used to come up with that list, as well as a longer list of 30 films that you can view on the next page. Here are the main criteria: Must be a sound film in German (no silent films).Must be a film generally available on video in the English-speaking world.Must be entertaining or interesting in some way for German-learners.The intended audience is German-learners who are at least 18 years old. Although foreign-language teachers in my district are allowed to show R-rated foreign movies in a high school classroom (using a parental permission form), I know that in some US school districts that isn't the case, so for survey purposes, we set the age limit at 18 and over. (Don't get me started on the ratings debacle: “The Harmonists” is rated “R” in the US, but “6 and up” in Germany!) And although I have shown parts of Fritz Lang's wonderful “Metropolis” (along with the Queen music video with “Metropolis” scenes) to my students, as a silent film, “Metropolis” doesn't make our list. But Downfall (Der Untergang), the Heimat chronicle (now on DVD), and Nowhere in Africa (Nirgendwo in Afrika) do. Because of space limitations, we could only include 10 films in our poll. Top German Movies The Top 35+ Best Films for German Our movie poll was limited to only ten films, and some of the films listed below were not available on DVD or video at the time of our survey. So here is an updated list of more than 30 films in German (some from Austria or Switzerland) rated highly by me, by various film critics, and film Web sites. In most cases, the films listed are available on DVD in the American (NTSC, Region 1) video standard with English subtitles. For some films you can click on the title to learn more. We also have a list of the best films in English for German-learners, plus a full German Movie Index by title. Please note that some of the Region 1 DVD releases listed below are rated R in the U.S. and may not be suitable for viewing by students under the age of 18. Teachers should always preview any film they plan to show in the classroom and be aware of their school district's film policies. Films in the list below are in alphabetical order with year and director and the original German titles shown in italics. Die besten deutschen Filme Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner HerzogAguirre, der Zorn GottesThe American Friend (1977) Wim WendersBeyond Silence (1996) Caroline LinkJenseits der StilleBlue Angel, The (1930) Joseph von SternbergDer blaue EngelBoat Is Full, The (1982) Markus ImhoofDas Boot ist voll is about Switzerland during WWII.Das Boot (1981) Wolfgang PetersenBRD Trilogy (1970s) Rainer Werner FassbinderDVD set: The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, LolaBrother of Sleep (1995) Joseph VilsmaierSchlafesbruder (2005) Oliver HirschgbiegelDer UntergangEuropa, Europa (1991) Agnieszka HollandHitlerjunge SalomonFaraway, So Close (1993) Wim WendersIn weiter Ferne, so nahFitzcarraldo (1982) Werner HerzogGood-Bye Lenin! (2003) Wolfgang BeckerGo, Trabi, Go* (1990) Peter TimmHarmonists, The (1997) Joseph VilsmaierComedian HarmonistsHeimat (6-film series) Edgar ReitzHeimat (now on Region 1 DVD)The Inheritors (1997) Stefan RuzowitzkyDie SiebtelbauerLives of Others, The* (2006)Das Leben der Anderen is about the East German Stasi.M (1931) Fritz LangMarlene (1986) Maximilian Schell(Interview with Dietrich in Ger. & Eng.)Marriage of Maria Braun, The (1978) Rainer Werner FassbinderDie Ehe der Maria Braun (part of Fassbinder's BRD Trilogie)Men* (1990) Doris DörrieMänner - a German comedy!* (2003)Das Wunder von Bern was Germany's 1954 soccer win.Mostly Martha (2001) Sandra NettelbeckBella Martha/Fünf SterneMystery of Kaspar Hauser, The (1974) Werner HerzogKaspar HauserNasty Girl, The (1990) Michael VerhoevenDas schreckliche MädchenNosferatu, the Vampyre (1979) Werner HerzogNosferatu, Phantom der NachtNowhere in Africa (2001) Caroline LinkNirgendwo in Afrika - Acad. Award Best Foreign FilmRosenstrasse (2004) Margarethe von TrottaRosenstraßeRun Lola Run (1998) Tom TykwerLola rennt is one of the best German films everSophie Scholl - The Last Days (2004) Marc RothemundSophie Scholl - Die letzten TageTopic: 'The White Rose' (see below)Stalingrad (1992) Joseph VilsmaierThe Tin Drum (1979) Volker SchlöndorffDie BlechtrommelWhite Rose, The* (1983) Michael VerhoevenDie weiße Rose (anti-Nazi group; true story)Vaya con Dios* (2002) Zoltan SpirendelliWings of Desire (1987) Wim WendersDer Himmel über BerlinWonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, The (1993) Ray MüllerDie Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl Some of the directors above, notably Fritz Lang, Wim Wenders, and Wolfgang Petersen, have also made films in English. For obvious reasons, our list does not include English-language films, but there is another category of interest to German teachers and students: Hollywood films in German. Since all non-German films shown to a wide audience in Germany are dubbed into German, it can be both amusing and instructive for English-speaking German-learners to view well-known Hollywood productions in German. And since the students are usually already familiar with the film's story, the lack of subtitles is not a serious drawback. The main disadvantage is that such films are usually in PAL video or Region 2 DVD format, requiring a multi-system player. Although some Hollywood films in German are available as NTSC video from various outlets, in my experience the quality is poor. It is best if you can obtain an original German DVD or video.