The 15 Best German Movies of All Time

The 15 Best German Movies of All Time
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To pass the time, nothing better than a good movie, especially a German one! Discover our list and selection of the 15 best German films, famous or less known, recent or classic, whose plot sometimes takes place in the now so deserted streets of Berlin!

1. The lives of others (2006) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

In 1984, in East Berlin, Stasi captain Gerd Wiesler is assigned to watch over a couple of intellectuals (trained by best-selling playwright Georg Dreyman and his girlfriend, actress Christa-Maria Sieland) suspected of being hostile to Erich Honecker's regime. However, it is a plot orchestrated by the East German Minister of Culture Bruno Hempf, who is in love with Dreyman's girlfriend and wants to compromise his rival in order to eliminate her. Wiesler follows the life and intimacy of the couple day after day, soaking up the everyday life of the people and sometimes becoming emotional about it. Little by little, he moves away from his mission, warns the couple of the dangers and writes incomplete or falsified reports, in order to protect the man he is supposed to be watching over! Unfortunately, this little merry-go-round will not go unnoticed for long ...

2. The white ribbon (2009) by Michael Hanneke (Austrian film)

On the eve of the First World War, a small, peaceful-looking North German village suddenly goes through a series of strange dramas and accidents. Sequestration, torture, violence and revenge follow one another in a remote village where the characters all appear more chilling than the others... A masterful film!

 3. Victoria (2015) by Sebastian Schipper

Victoria, a young woman from Madrid who has just arrived in Berlin, meets Boxer, Fuss, Blinker and Sonne during a club trip. She is innocent, they are late-night scoundrels. She joins their team and together they form an atypical and tireless gang - wandering through the night, finishing one party and immediately starting another on a rooftop, in a supermarket, a coffee shop - whatever! One catch! No cuts! The film as presented is the result of one day's shooting. Victoria wins six awards at the 65th Deutscher Filmpreis ceremony. A captivating movie!

4. The wave (2008) by Dennis Gansel

Since 2008, this movie is shown by all German teachers at the end of the year in schools. This film tells the story of a sociological experiment carried out by a teacher renowned for his unconventional methods. The latter is entrusted with the animation of a workshop on the theme of autocracy. Faced with the scepticism of his students about a return of the totalitarian regime in Germany, he sets up a life-size role-playing game and subjects the class to strict rules. However, due to the enthusiasm of some, what was at first only a game goes off the rails and out of the control of the teacher ... 

5. Labyrinth of Lies (2014) by Giulio Ricciarelli

At the end of the 1950s, Johann Radmann, an ambitious and proud new public prosecutor at the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office, despaired of his day-to-day business, which he considered irrelevant.  In addition, a journalist reports to him that a concentration camp survivor has reportedly recognized Alois Schulz, a former SS officer stationed at Auschwitz. Schulz was now a teacher at the town's Goethe Gymnasium. For the young prosecutor, this is the springboard of his career! 

6. The edge of heaven (2007) by Fatih Akin

This film shows the fate of three individuals, Nejat Aksu, Ayten Öztürk and Suzanne. Three destinies shattered by life and linked by remorse, regret and the death of a prostitute in Hamburg. From Germany to Turkey, from one regime to another, from one prison to another, these beings are brought together to find themselves in the same place and discover the bond that unites them.

7. The Experiment (2001) by Oliver Hirschbiegel

As part of a behavioural experiment, twenty men are selected: eight of them become prison guards and twelve become prisoners. For two weeks, the behaviour of the individuals is studied using surveillance cameras. The designated prisoners lose their names and gradually lose their identity. In a very short time, the atmosphere changes and becomes electric. Within a few hours, the "guards" begin to take their role too seriously, some become outright sadistic, and the prisoners feel trapped.  Just two days after the experiment begins, the study goes completely off track: attempted rape, murder and revolt become commonplace in this "innocent" experiment and "fictitious" prison.

8. The most beautiful couple (2019) by Sven Taddicken

A perfect couple enjoys their vacation on the beach until a group of young people join them to have "a good time". The sadistic games of the group degenerate into brutal rape. A deep trauma remained, even though the couple struggled to live a "normal life" outside. Liv has just finished her therapy to get rid of the traumatic experience. Malta distracts himself by practicing boxing and, one evening, he sees the perpetrator of the attack at the time and follows him to his apartment. A game of cat and mouse begins... Malta's thirst for revenge intensifies as Liv tries to rebuild herself and escape the traumatic images of the event. Is it reasonable to be a "good person" when others are so bad?  

9. Head-on (2004) by Fatih Akin 

Cahit, a forty-year-old man of Turkish origin cannot forget the death of his wife. After years of depression, a suicide attempt takes him to the hospital where he meets Sibel, also of Turkish origin, who has just attempted suicide to escape her father's pressure. Disturbed by the resemblances, Cahit agrees, after an odious blackmail, to marry the young woman in order to allow her to escape from her family. 

Sibel is young, free, wants to live life to the fullest and meet men. Alongside Sibel, Cahit regains a taste for life and gradually falls in love with her. Following an altercation in a bar, Cahit kills a man by accident. He is imprisoned and she has to flee to Turkey to escape the family's revenge. After a few years, Cahit gets out of prison and wants to find Sibel ... Could she keep her promise and remain faithful to him?

10. Goodbye Lenin (2003) by Wolfgang Becker

Alexander (Daniel Brühl) and Ariane Kerner live in East Berlin in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In the summer of 1978, their father flees to the West. Christiane, their mother, decided to become fully involved in the social life of the communist regime. But on the 40th anniversary of the GDR on 7 October 1989, she suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma. When she came out of it eight months later, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany had undergone major upheavals. Fearing another fatal heart attack caused by these great changes, Alexander decides to hide the end of the GDR from her and leads her entourage in a mad attempt to recreate a bygone era. A very nice nursery rhyme about everyday life in East Germany, with very funny passages and beautiful music by Yann Tiersen.

11. In the fade (2017) by Fatih Akin

Katja (Diane Kruger)'s life is shattered when her husband and son die in a bomb attack. Katja believes she saw a woman carrying a black package just before the event. The police focus their investigation on an act of revenge by drug traffickers and arrest a young neo-Nazi couple who will be charged with the bombing as Katja suspects that her husband's Kurdish background may have something to do with the attack.

12. Phoenix (2014) by Christian Petzold

In June 1945, Nelly Lenz, a former cabaret singer and Auschwitz survivor, underwent an operation following an explosion that had severely disfigured her. When she woke up from the operation, her sister and her parents having all disappeared, the young woman found herself the sole heir to the family fortune. Her friend Lene, who dreams of a new life in the young state of Israel, is the only one left at her side as she tries to convince Nelly to follow her. As Nelly tries to reconnect with her past and her husband Johnny, Lene makes a series of statements to make Nelly give up any hope of returning to her former life. 

13. Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)  by Murnau

The story takes place in 1838 in the small town of Wisborg in Germany and presents the legend of the terrible Nosferatu. Thomas Hutter, a young real estate agent, has to travel to a faraway land to get documents signed for the sale of a house. After a long journey and despite his coachman's refusal to drive him to his destination, he finally arrives at the castle of the mysterious Count Orlock. The place, worthy of a horror movie, seems uninhabited, worse haunted. The young man begins to harbour certain suspicions about his host, a strange and disturbing character. As night falls, the Count's true evil nature awakens... 

14. M (1931) by Fritz Lang

In the grim working class neighborhoods of a large German city, a child killer maniac roams around terrorizing the city. Superintendent Lohmann, who is in charge of the investigation, carries out a series of roundups in the slums. Embarrassed by all the commotion, the mob decides to take the matter into its own hands and find the criminal itself: it instructs beggars and tramps to watch every street corner. First film by Fritz Lang and a great classic of German cinema!

15. Das Boot (1981) by Wolfgang Petersen

During the Second World War, 40,000 German submariners, sent by Hitler, embarked on a routine mission in the North Atlantic. What they do not know is that only 10,000 men will return home alive.

Bonus

"Muttertag" (1993) by Harald Sicherhitz - very funny Austrian film! At an innocent family reunion, family grievances, discrepancies and unspoken family secrets are revealed in a series of absurd situations. 

Raphaëlle
Raphaëlle Radermecker

Author

With a curious personality and a passion for well-chosen words, writing and discovery are my two passions. Berlin intrigues and fascinates me, with its cultural and artistic richness, its modernity and its ability to constantly renew itself.

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