Watching films from foreign countries can be eye-opening and an inspiration on how other nations understand movies. You learn more about the movie-culture and also about the culture from the country as well. You also learn how certain filmmakers see the world and their environment. So it’s actual worth it to check out movies from other nations!
When you are on your journey through world cinema and make a stop in Germany, I have five great movies you should check out.
Der Untergang (The Downfall) (2004)
The Downfall shows the last 12 days of World War II, from the Nazi-Headquarters perspective in Berlin. The Sowjets almost conquered the city, but Adolf Hitler still doesn’t want to surrender, and has delusions about the Victory of Germany.
Before the movie was released, there was a huge public discussion in Germany: Are we ready to humanize one of the biggest mass murderers in history? Yes, we are. Bruno Ganz did a tremendous job in portraying Hitler with his many different characteristics.
He’s not just outrageous (like many films have portrayed him).
There are some really intimate calm moments, where we can look inside the mind of the man who started a war with almost 60 million deaths and ordered the killings of about 6 million jews and other minorities. It’s terrifying.
But also necessary to face the truth. And it’s still a movie, following storytelling rules. It doesn’t claim detailed historic truth, but the point is to get a genuine idea of who Hitler was and how he tricked a whole nation.
Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (The Edukators) (2004)
Three idealists break into rich people’s houses to rearrange the furniture but not steal anything. They just make people think: you are not alone. But then everything goes wrong.
The Edukators shows the political alignment of three young idealists and how their trying to make a difference. The movie does a great job in establishing the objectives of the characters in the first half and then question the consequences of their actions in the second half.
The movie focuses on the dialogue which is great, because it seems really natural and makes it easy to relate to. And you can feel a shift in the relationship between the characters, which is beautifully shown in the cinematography.
Absolute Giganten (Gigantic) (1998)
This movie tells the story of three friends who live in Hamburg. When one of them reveals to his friends he is going to work on a ship on the next morning, they decide to spend one great final night together.
It’s a great movie about friendship, the desire for freedom, and the problems of young adults growing up.
It’s narrated like a road movie full of funny moments and nostalgic touches. The main characters have great chemistry together and every single one of them also reveals a certain depth during the night.
Good Bye Lenin (2003)
A nostalgic comedic-drama right after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
It is about a former east berlin young adult, who wants to protect his mother from another heart-attack. She was a member of the socialist party and in a coma during the fall of the wall, so he pretends that the DDR is still existing.
The film is focussing on the drastic change of daily life after the fall of the wall between east and west Germany in 1989. It’s not a comedy in the first place, even if the effort they put into creating the DDR in one apartment leads to a few confusing and comedic situations.
It is more about how to continue life after such a huge change and what kind of opportunities it brings. It also shows people who can’t deal with the new circumstances.
The soundtrack from Yann Tiersen is beautiful melancholy, and transports nostalgic thoughts on the past but also gives inspiration to move forward.
Das Experiment (The Experiment) (2001)
An experiment of volunteers playing prisoners and guards is getting out of control. It started with the thought of having fun, serving science and making an easy buck but after a while both groups overstep healthy boundaries and the game actually brings out the worst sides of humanity.
The movie is great, because it builds tension well, you feel everything getting more serious. There are some really interesting characters and through the experiment you get to know many of them pretty well.