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The Best German Films
for German-Learners

Part 2: Top German Movies

The Top 35+ Best Films for German

Best Films: Part 1 > Part 2 > Part 3 > Poll

Harmonists scene
A scene from the 1997 German
film "Comedian Harmonists."

Foto: Senator Films

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. Also see our German Film Permission Form.

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Also see our German Movie Guide and Recent German Films pages
for more titles.

Die besten deutschen Filme
The Best German Films

In alphabetical order with year and director
Original German titles shown in italics
*Title may only be available in PAL DVD/video without subtitles
Recently Added Titles in red.
Full German Movie Index by Title
  1. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Werner Herzog
    Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes
  2. The American Friend (1977) Wim Wenders
  3. Beyond Silence (1996) Caroline Link
    Jenseits der Stille
  4. Blue Angel, The (1930) Joseph von Sternberg
    Der blaue Engel
  5. Boat Is Full, The (1982) Markus Imhoof
    Das Boot ist voll is about Switzerland during WWII.
  6. Das Boot (1981) Wolfgang Petersen
  7. BRD Trilogy (1970s) Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    DVD set: The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, Lola
  8. Brother of Sleep (1995) Joseph Vilsmaier
  9. Downfall (2005) Oliver Hirschgbiegel
    Der Untergang
  10. Europa, Europa (1991) Agnieszka Holland
    Hitlerjunge Salomon
  11. Faraway, So Close (1993) Wim Wenders
    In weiter Ferne, so nah
  12. Fitzcarraldo (1982) Werner Herzog
  13. Good-Bye Lenin! (2003) Wolfgang Becker
  14. Go, Trabi, Go* (1990) Peter Timm
  15. Harmonists, The (1997) Joseph Vilsmaier
    Comedian Harmonists
  16. Heimat (6-film series) Edgar Reitz
    Heimat (now on Region 1 DVD)
  17. The Inheritors (1997) Stefan Ruzowitzky
    Die Siebtelbauer
  18. Lives of Others, The* (2006)
    Das Leben der Anderen is about the East German Stasi.
  19. M (1931) Fritz Lang
  20. Marlene (1986) Maximilian Schell
    (Interview with Dietrich in Ger. & Eng.)
  21. Marriage of Maria Braun, The (1978) Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    Die Ehe der Maria Braun (part of Fassbinder's BRD Trilogie)
  22. Men* (1990) Doris Dörrie
    Männer - a German comedy!
  23. Miracle of Bern, The* (2003)
    Das Wunder von Bern was Germany's 1954 soccer win.
  24. Mostly Martha (2001) Sandra Nettelbeck
    Bella Martha/Fünf Sterne
  25. Mystery of Kaspar Hauser, The (1974) Werner Herzog
    Kaspar Hauser
  26. Nasty Girl, The (1990) Michael Verhoeven
    Das schreckliche Mädchen
  27. Nosferatu, the Vampyre (1979) Werner Herzog
    Nosferatu, Phantom der Nacht
  28. Nowhere in Africa (2001) Caroline Link
    Nirgendwo in Afrika - Acad. Award Best Foreign Film
  29. Rosenstrasse (2004) Margarethe von Trotta
  30. Run Lola Run (1998) Tom Tykwer
    Lola rennt is one of the best German films ever
  31. Sophie Scholl - The Last Days (2004) Marc Rothemund
    Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage
    Topic: 'The White Rose' (see below)
  32. Stalingrad (1992) Joseph Vilsmaier
  33. The Tin Drum (1979) Volker Schlöndorff
    Die Blechtrommel
  34. White Rose, The* (1983) Michael Verhoeven
    Die weiße Rose (anti-Nazi group; true story)
  35. Vaya con Dios* (2002) Zoltan Spirendelli
  36. Wings of Desire (1987) Wim Wenders
    Der Himmel über Berlin
  37. Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl, The (1993) Ray Müller
    Die Macht der Bilder: Leni Riefenstahl
*Title may only be available in PAL DVD/video without subtitles

INDEX > Full German Movie Index by Title
MORE > Recent German Films

WEB > The German-Hollywood Connection

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. (Also see: Best Films in English for German-learners.)

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. (See Movie Titles 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. (For more about such videos and where to obtain them, see our German DVD/Video Guide.)

On the next page, you'll find our list of Best Films in English for German-learners. Also please voice your opinion in our Movie Poll!

TEACHERS - Need a German Film Permission Form for your German classes? You can adapt this sample to your needs.

NEXT > Best Films in English - 1 | 2 | 3 | Movie Poll

MORE > Top German DVDs | 'Lola' on Video
'Lola' Worksheet | DVD Codes | Video Guide

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