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The Best German Films
for German-Learners

Die besten deutschen Filme
für Deutschlernende

Which German movies are best for German-learners?

Wings video
Is this German
film one of the 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. (See links below.)

But what other films are best for German-learners? Obviously, everyone will have their own opinion, and some films are more suitable than others. That's why we invite you to express your own opinion in our movie opinion poll, in which we ask you to pick your three top choices from a list of ten German films.

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. On the next page you'll find a more complete list of over 30 films in German that may be suitable for the foreign-language classroom, including newer German films recently released on DVD with English subtitles.

NEXT > Top German Films » 1 | 2 | 3 | Movie Poll

> Best Films in English
> Lola's Running on Video
> German Movie Guide

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