10 Must Watch German Language Movies

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10 Must Watch German Language Movies


Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

I love watching German language movies to help with my German missions.

Watching movies is an effective way to develop an ear for the language. You also get to experience the spoken language in many different social situations you would probably never find yourself in.

One of the main reasons I study languages is to experience the culture, and movies also provide you with valuable cultural exposure.

The following is a list of German films to help give you get a closer look into the language and culture of German speakers. If you’re learning German, then this list should help you come up with enjoyable options for those days when your brain hurts from studying and you just need to relax for a couple hours.

1. Das Boot (The Boat)

Das Boot German Language Movie

Released: 1981
Directed by: Wolfgang Peterson
Suitable For: War Movie Buffs

IMDB Average Rating: 8.4 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%

The Story
A gripping, tense and somewhat claustrophobic movie about a German submarine crew fighting the Allies in 1941.

Language Hacker’s Notes
While there isn’t a tonne of dialogue in this film, it’s rich with World War II references and military-speak that you may not normally hear while walking around the streets of Frankfurt.

2. Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run)

Run Lola Run German Language Movie

Released: 1998
Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Suitable For: the MTV Generation

IMDB Average Rating: 7.8 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%

The Story
An energetic and fast-paced film about a woman who needs to get 100,000 Deutschmarks in 20 minutes or her boyfriend will die. An engrossing performance by Franka Potente (who you’ll recognize from The Bourne Identity) who steals the show. It’s like Crank (with Jason Statham) meets Sliding Doors (with Gwyneth Paltrow), but in German!

Language Hacker’s Notes
A film geared towards a younger generation, you’ll find lots of fun slang and colloquialisms to spice up your German!

3. Good Bye Lenin!

Good Bye Lenin German Language Movie

Released: 2003
Directed by: Wolfgang Becker
Suitable For: Fans of Social Commentary and Comedy

IMDB Average Rating: 7.8 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%

The Story
A hilarious film about a young man whose socialist mother awakes from a heart-attack induced coma, unaware of the recent German reunification. To keep her from having another heart attack, he must scheme to make sure she has no idea anything has changed and that the German Democratic Republic is still alive and well.

Language Hacker’s Notes
Plenty of interesting cultural notes on a German perspective of reunification. Plenty of useful vocabulary to help you talk about political ideology.

4. Ostwind – Zusammen Sind Wir Frei (Eastwind – Together We Are Free)

Ostwind German Language Movie

Released: 2015
Directed by: Katja von Garnier
Suitable For: Children and Families

IMDB Average Rating: 6.9 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: n/a

The Story
A touching family film utilizing the tried and tested formula of pairing a girl with a horse. A story you’ve seen many times before, but this time it’s in German! 🙂

Language Hacker’s Notes
A brilliant way to experience the German language from a child’s perspective. Also lots of useful vocabulary for the equestrians out there.

5. Downfall (Der Untergang)

Downfall German Movie

Released: 2004
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Suitable For: History Buffs

IMDB Average Rating: 8.3 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%

The Story
An intense and gripping look at the last 10 days of Adolf Hitler’s life in his bunker during the end of World War II.

Language Hacker’s Notes
If you want to get a taste of the Austrian accent (Don’t forget they speak German in Austria!), then Bruno Ganz gives you a taste of the real thing in his amazing performance as the Austrian-born Hitler.

Also, wait for that one scene which went viral all over the Internet about Hitler complaining about… anything they decided to put on the subtitles. Very random!

6. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant)

Bitter Tears German Language Movie

Released: 1972
Directed by: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Suitable For: Relationship Experts

IMDB Average Rating: 7.7 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%

The Story
A classic German film and an excellent exploration of the dynamics of human relationships. While some of the interactions are adult-themed, this film is considered a good introduction to the world of New German Cinema and the work of acclaimed director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Language Hacker’s Notes
If you want some ways to talk about love and hate, then this is your film. You also get the added bonus of the rarely heard Bavarian accent.

7. Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex)

Baader Meinhof Complex German Language Movie

Released: 2008
Directed by: Uli Edel
Suitable For: Action Fans

IMDB Average Rating: 7.4 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

The Story
A look at the controversial Red Army Faction (RAF), the left wing militant group who terrorized Germany during the 60’s and 70’s.

Language Hacker’s Notes
An action-packed film with enough slang words to fill a dictionary!

8. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

Aguirre German Language Movie

Released: 1972
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Suitable For: History Buffs

IMDB Average Rating: 8.0 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%

The Story
One of the most impressive German films of the 70’s thanks to the fantastic acting performances and this classic pairing of actor Klaus Kinski and director Werner Herzog (the German equivalent of Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese). This film follows the story of a conquistador’s descent into madness as he searches the Amazon for El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold.

Language Hacker’s Notes
An enjoyable film to watch for pure entertainment value, but probably an overly intense way to learn German. Due to the complexity of the German language in this film, it’s best to use this for study when you get to a more advanced level.

9. Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa)

Nowhere in Africa German Language Movie

Released: 2001
Directed by: Caroline Link
Suitable For: History Buffs

IMDB Average Rating: 7.7 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%

The Story
This 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Picture tells the story of a Jewish family from Germany relocating to Kenya during World War 2.

Language Hacker’s Notes
If you’re relatively new to German, then this film may be perfect for you. The actors speak a clear and easy-to-understand German, perfect for those still early in their study of the language.

10. Die Vorstadtkrokodile (The Crocodiles)

The Crocodiles German Language Movie

Released: 2001
Directed by: Christian Ditter
Suitable For: Kids and Families

IMDB Average Rating: 6.2 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes Page

The Story
Based on a popular young adult novel, this is basically a German version of “The Bad News Bears”. Two outcasts join up with a local gang and subsequent hilarity and hijinx ensues as they take on a large foe. It was so popular it even spawned two sequels!

Language Hacker’s Notes
This is another film to help you learn some German “kid speak”. You’ll experience a youthful version of German spoken by 21st century kids. So, that means you’ll finally learn the German word for “gummy bears” (Gummibärchen).

What Are Your Favourites?

So, now that you’ve read the list, you probably have some movie-watching to do 😉

Naturally there are many more German movies out there. If you have a favourite that you think should be on the list, share it on our Facebook page! Everyone would love to read your selection of must-watch German films!

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Benny Lewis

Founder, Fluent in 3 Months

Fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globe trotter and international bestselling author. Benny believes the best approach to language learning is to speak from day one.

Speaks: Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch, Irish

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