German Movies at the Askwith Media Library in the UGLi
Finding German films and series in general (not just at Askwith)
- Check the Telescope website for info on German films and series worth watching, including trailers and details on where they are available online.
- Here is a survey of German film series that you can watch in the US, compiled by the Goethe Insitute.
- Here is another list of German television and shows available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. The rankings seem arbitrary, but the descriptions and availability info are very helpful.
- Here is the list of German Films Available at the LRC (these can only be watched in the LRC).
How can I find German films at Askwith?
1. The Askwith Media Library is on the 2nd floor of the UGLi. If you’re a University of Michigan student, you can check movies out and watch them at home (perhaps with friends or a date ).
2. To find a specific title, search the library catalog, or try this link to search for results limited to Askwith. The search results include filters that allow you to narrow down results e.g. by language, to materials available online etc.
- To browse German titles generally, try the Advanced Search option: leave the initial search boxes blank and use the “Additional Search Options” to limit results to Library > Ann Arbor > Askwith, and to Language > German. This should bring up more than 1,000 titles.
3. The list below is a rather arbitrary selection, and has only been minimally updated since 2005. Check the links at the top of this page for ideas for other films/series to look for.
- Click here to see an older Word document with a more intellectually oriented, annotated selection compiled by Lecturers and GSIs in the German department.
More info about this list
- All of the films listed should have German subtitles, unless otherwise noted.
- All of the DVDs should play on American DVD players.
- Click on the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) or Amazon links next to each title for more info. Descriptions are mostly adapted from the summaries on IMDB, amazon or Wikipedia.
- Within each category, films are listed chronologically by year, and alphabetically within the same year. If a film fits in more than one category, we have (somewhat arbitrarily) chosen just one.
- Please email feedback if you notice errors!
|Dramas||Second World War and the Holocaust|
|Comedies and Romantic Comedies||Action/Adventure/Mystery/Crime/Horror|
|Classics (Pre-World-War II)||Classics (Post-World-War II)|
|Documentaries||Hollywood Classics Dubbed in German|
Der Kuchenmacher (The Cakemaker) (2017) IMDB Amazon Thomas, a young German baker, has an affair with Oren, a married Israeli man. After Oren unexpectedly dies in a car crash, Thomas travels to Jerusalem and begins to work for Anat, Oren’s widow….
Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2015) IMDB Amazon A young Spanish woman who has recently moved to Berlin finds her flirtation with a local guy turn potentially deadly as their night out with his friends reveals a dangerous secret. Filmed in one, long, uninterrupted shot; the dialog is mostly in English as Victoria does not speak German.
Honig im Kopf (Head Full of Honey) (2014) IMDB Before Tilda’s parents can put her beloved grandfather in an old people’s home due to his progressing Alzheimer’s disease, she takes him on one last adventure. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and reviewed controversially: most reviewers find it moving and insightful, but some have denounced it as a shallow and commercial caricature of the effects of Alzheimer’s. [There is a poorly rated 2018 Hollywood remake starring Nick Nolte.]
The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band) (Michael Haneke, 2009) IMDB Amazon Very dark (even darker, and also available at Askwith: Funny Games, by the same director). Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I. Signs point to a ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery.
The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008) IMDB Amazon Brilliant drama about the terrorist “Rote Armee Fraktion” (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and ’70s.
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) IMDB Amazon In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Head-On (Gegen die Wand) (Fatih Akin, 2004) IMDB Amazon With the intention to break free from the strict familial restrictions, a suicidal young woman sets up a marriage of convenience with a forty-year-old addict, an act that will lead to an outburst of envious love. Warning: There is some gruesome violence in this movie, including gruesome sexual violence.
The Edukators (Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei) (2004) IMDB Amazon Three young activists rearrange furniture in rich people’s houses in order to unsettle the capitalist elite – but then find themselves cobbling together a kidnapping plot after they encounter a businessman in his home. The cast includes Daniel Brühl from Good Bye Lenin, whom you may also know from Inglourious Basterds.
Good Bye Lenin (Wolfgang Becker, 2003) IMDB Amazon In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared. Stars Daniel Brühl, whom you may know from Inglourious Basterds.
Solino (Fatih Akin, 2002) IMDB Beautiful, romantic family epic that follows an Italian family after the family emigrates to Germany in the 1960s.
Mostly Martha (Bella Martha) (Sandra Nettelbeck, 2001) IMDB Amazon Martha, a brilliant but stubborn chef, reluctantly takes in her equally stubborn 8-year-old niece after Martha’s sister dies in a car accident.
Nowhere in Africa (Nirgendwo in Afrika) (Caroline Link, 2001) IMDB Amazon Based on the true story of a German Jewish family moving to Kenya in the 1930s to escape the Nazis, and adjusting to farm life there. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
What to Do in Case of Fire (Was tun wenn’s brennt) (2001) IMDB Amazon Six idealistic young activists leave a handcrafted bomb in a mansion in Berlin in 1987. Thirteen years later, their past catches up with them when the bomb explodes, wounding two people.
The Princess and the Warrior (Der Krieger und die Kaiserin) (Tom Tykwer, 2000) (IMDB Amazon. Slower, more melancholy movie by the director of Lola rennt, but still about fate and true love, and again starring Franka Potente.
Run, Lola, Run (Lola rennt) (Tom Tykwer, 1998) IMDB Amazon After Manni loses the money from a criminal transaction on the subway, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 DM (Deutsche Mark, to German currency before the Euro) in order to save Manni’s life.
Beyond Silence (Jenseits der Stille) (Caroline Link, 1996) IMDB Amazon Lara grows up as the daughter of deaf parents, Martin and Kai. Lara herself is hearing and so even as a young child, she often serves as an interpreter for her parents.
It’s a Jungle Out There (Nach fünf im Urwald) (1995) IMDB Amazon Franka Potente’s (Lola from Lola rennt) first starring role. Very sweet coming-of-age film that also explores the perspective of the parents. Things go wrong when Anna, 17, has a birthday party at home while her parents are gone. Anna runs away to Munich, where she runs into Simon, a shy boy from her class who has also run away. The film follows their experiences, and those of their parents, who try to find them.
Maybe, Maybe Not (Der bewegte Mann) (1994) IMDB Amazon Comedy in which heterosexual Axel, having been thrown out by his wife for one more sexual escapade, ends up being taken in by two homosexuals, Norbert and Walter, who promptly begin competing for his favors. This leads to a number of comical misunderstandings, which play with heterosexual and homosexual stereotypes. Huge box office hit in Germany at the time. NOTE: The version at Askwith does not have subtitles. Another version (hopefully with subtitles?) is on reserve at the Language Resource Center.
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2007) IMDB Amazon Jewish concentration camp inmates are recruited for Operation Bernhard, the largest counterfeiting operation in history, carried out by Germany during WWII. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Sophie Scholl: Die letzten Tage (2005) IMDB Amazon A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.
The Harmonists (Comedian Harmonists) (1997) IMDB Amazon The film chronicles the rise and fall of Germany’s most famous a capella group, the Comedian Harmonists, in 1930s Germany, some of whose members were Jewish.
Mephisto (István Szabó, 1981) IMDB Amazon Hungarian-German film. In early-1930s Germany, a passionate stage actor finds himself before a dilemma: renounce his apolitical stance and comply with the Reich’s doctrine, or face oblivion. But, Faustian bargains never end well. What is the price of success? Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel) (Volker Schlöndorff, 1979) IMDB Amazon Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and based on the novel by Nobel Prize winner Günther Grass. In 1924, Oskar Matzerath is born in the Free City of Danzig. At age three, he falls down a flight of stairs and stops growing. In 1939, World War II breaks out.
Jacob the Liar (Jakob der Lügner) (1975) IMDB Amazon Original on which the remake with Robin Williams was based. In a Jewish ghetto in German-occupied Poland, Jakob overhears a broadcast about the advances of the Soviet Army. When his friends doubt the story, Jakob makes up a lie, claiming he owns a radio – a crime punishable by death. This leads to Jakob making up more news, to sustain the desperate residents’ will to live.
Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens) (1935) IMDB Amazon Probably the most famous of the propaganda movies Leni Riefenstahl made for the Nazis. The library also has the very interesting documentary The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl.
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) IMDB Amazon Dark but occasionally hilariously absurd comedy-drama, in which a practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO’s life coach. Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Kebab Connection (2004) IMDB Amazon In Hamburg, Ibrahim “Ibo” Secmez, of Turkish descent, wants to direct the first German kung-fu movie. For now, he makes commercials for his uncle’s kebab restaurant. Titzie, an aspiring actress and Ibo’s German girlfriend, finds she’s pregnant…
Der Schuh des Manitu (2001) IMDB Amazon Record-setting box office hit in Germany. Loaded with offensive stereotypes, and included on this list only because it is such a well-known title. The low-brow humor is hard to translate into English. Primarily a parody of the old Karl May movies about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, which Askwith also has (“Karl May DVD collection”). These are also loaded with stereotypes of Native Americans. Karl May’s books generated much sympathy for and interest in Native Americans in Germany, but did so on the basis of simplistic and often offensive stereotypes, which continue to be prevalent.
Talk of the Town (Stadtgespräch) (1995) IMDB Amazon Monika, the host of a radio call-in show, has almost given up all hopes of finding the man of her dreams when her gay brother convinces her to make one last attempt. Much of the ensuing drama and chaos takes place on her show.
No More Mr Nice Guy (Wir können auch anders) (1993) IMDB Amazon Deadpan comedy about two not-very-intelligent brothers making their way across Germany in order to claim to an inheritance that has come about through German reunification.
North Face (Nordwand) (2008) IMDB Amazon Based on a true story, this survival drama film is set in 1936. As Nazi propaganda urges German climbers to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif – the Eiger – two reluctant German climbers begin a daring ascent.
23 (1998) IMDB Amazon Based on a true story (there has been some controversy about the film’s accuracy). When the orphaned Karl Koch and his friend David start breaking into government and military computers, an acquaintance senses that there is money in computer cracking – and travels to East Berlin to try to contact the KGB. The title derives from the protagonist’s obsession with the number 23.
Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997) IMDB Amazon Two violent young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic “games” with one another for their own amusement. Warning: this is a gruesomely violent horror movie.
The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) (Josef von Sternberg, 1930) IMDB Amazon An elderly professor’s life spins tragically out of control when he falls for a nightclub singer. Beautiful, sad film which launched Marlene Dietrich’s career.
Metropolis (1927) IMDB Amazon In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. By modern standards, the plot feels absurd, but the film was visually groundbreaking and remains a classic. Sometimes performed with live organ accompaniment at the Michigan Theater.
Nosferatu (Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens) (F.W. Murnau, 1922) IMDB Amazon Classic film that brought the story of Dracula into the mainstream, still compelling today. Sometimes performed with live organ accompaniment at the Michigan Theater. If you watch this, you MUST also watch Herzog’s classic 1979 remake, Nosferatu the Vampyre, starring Klaus Kinski, and then unwind by watching Shadow of the Vampire, a 2000 movie starring John Malkovich as Murnau (the director of Nosferatu) and Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck, providing an unexpected explanation as to why Schreck was able to play the role of the vampire Nosferatu so realistically.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari) (1920) IMDB Amazon Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders. Mesmerizing expressionist sets. For fun, search for the New Yorker cartoon, “The Cubicle of Dr. Caligari” 🙂
The Castle (Das Schloss) (Michael Haneke, 1997) IMDB Amazon Adaptation of Kafka’s classic unfinished novel. When a land surveyor arrives at a small snowy village, local authorities refuse to allow him to advance to the nearby castle. Increasingly complicated bureaucratic obstacles arise.
Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin) (Wim Wenders, 1987) IMDB Amazon You might want to watch an episode or two of the old detective show Columboin order to appreciate Peter Falk’s role as “himself” (the actor who played Columbo) in this movie. If you enjoy Wings of Desire, you may want to watch the sequel, Faraway, So Close!, which Askwith also has. And/or you may want to watch Wenders’ English-language classic Paris, Texas, starring Harry Dean Stanton (whom you might know from the cult movie Repo Man) and Nastassja Kinski (also available from Askwith).
Heimat, a Chronicle of Germany (Heimat – eine deutsche Chronik) (Edgar Reitz, 1981-2) IMDB Amazon Addictive mini-series (11 episodes of varying lengths) chronicling 3 generations of a family from a small town in Germany. If you find yourself wanting more, Askwith also has the follow-up series, Die zweite Heimat, and Heimat 3.
The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun) (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1979) IMDB Amazon Mesmerizing story of Maria, whose marriage to the soldier Hermann remains unfulfilled due to World War II and his post-war imprisonment. Maria adapts ruthlessly to the realities of post-war West Germany and begins a series of relationships, all the while staying true to her love for Hermann. One of Fassbinder’s most successful films, often seen as an allegory for West Germany’s post-war history.
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst Essen Seele auf) (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974) IMDB Amazon An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.
The Legend of Paul and Paula (Die Legende von Paul und Paula) (1973) IMDB Amazon A popular hit in the former DDR, where viewers appreciated its wild, romantic, sad imagination in a time when the state wanted movies to focus on “socialist realism.” Read a few reviews before watching it – it can be hard for a contemporary viewer to appreciate, but when you get into it, it’s a beautiful movie.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Werner Herzog, 1972) IMDB Amazon & Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982) IMDB Amazon. If you watch just one crazy, baffling, “artsy” movie, maybe Aguirre should be it. If it gets you interested, watch Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, also starring Klaus Kinski, about an adventurer determined to build an opera house in the Amazon rain forest. Also brilliant: the documentary My Best Fiend, which Askwith also has, about the stormy relationship between Herzog and his brilliant and exceptionally difficult star, Klaus Kinski (Wikipedia mentions, for example, that during the shooting of Fitzcarraldo, “an extra even offered to kill Kinski. Herzog reluctantly declined”). To get a taste of Herzog, check out this short clip of Herzog getting shot during an interview, and this clip of Herzog (not really) reading Curious George.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser [a.k.a. Every Man for Himself and God Against All] (Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle) (Werner Herzog, 1974 ) IMDB Amazon A young man named Kaspar Hauser suddenly appears in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to talk or walk, and bearing a strange note.
The Scarlet Letter (Der scharlachrote Buchstabe) (Wim Wenders, 1973) IMDB Based on Hawthorne’s classic. In 17th-century Salem, Hester Prynne must wear a scarlet “A” because she is an adulteress, with a child out of wedlock. For seven years, she has refused to name the father.
Young Törless (Der junge Törless) (Volker Schlöndorff, 1966) IMDB Amazon At a boarding school in the pre-war Austro-Hungarian Empire, a pair of students torture one of their fellow classmates. Based on a classic novel by Robert Musil, author of the monumental classic Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities).
The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns) (1946) IMDB Amazon After returning from a concentration camp, Susanne finds an ex-soldier living in her apartment. Together the two try to move past their experiences during WWII. Laid the foundation for the career of the brilliant actress Hildegard Knef.
Check the link to browse German documentaries by year, category & genre. For each film there is a synopsis, a link to a trailer, info about the original language, info about availability, etc. When you find a film you like, use the links at the top of this page to see if Askwith has it.
The Aryans – Die Arier (Mo Asumang, 2014) IMDB Amazon About right-wing movements worldwide and their completely incorrect interpretation of the term “Aryan,” a phenomenon which began with French philosopher Gobineau and continued with the Nazis. Filmmaker Mo Asumang embarks on a journey into the madness of racism and meets German neo-Nazis, America’s most notorious racist Tom Metzger and members of the KKK in the Midwest.
Pina (“Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost”) (Wim Wenders, 2011) IMDB Amazon The boundless imagination and physical marvels of the work of the German modern-dance pioneer Pina Bausch leap off the screen in this tribute by Wim Wenders. Shot in 3D, it is a remarkable visual experience and a vivid representation of Bausch’s art, enacted by a group of talented dancers from her company.
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985) IMDB Amazon Over a decade in the making, this is a monumental investigation of the unthinkable: the murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazis. Using no archival footage, Claude Lanzmann instead focuses on first-person testimonies (of survivors and former Nazis, and other witnesses), employing a circular, free-associative method in assembling them. Intellectual, yet emotionally overwhelming, Shoah is not a film about excavating the past but an intensive portrait in which the past is always present.
The Adventures of Indiana Jones [i.e. The complete Raiders of the Lost Ark Trilogy] (Die Abenteuer von Indiana Jones) Note: Raiders of the Lost Ark = Jäger des verlorenen Schatzes.