The great films explore everything from claustrophobic submarine warfare to expressionistic visions of the future, from angelic dreams of immortality to a certain mischievious dwarf. Lang, Wenders, Schlöndorff, Fassbinder, Herzog: here is our list of the ten best German films.
Fritz Lang's 1925 expressionistic science-fiction dystopia describes a world where the priviliged few live to dance with fawns while the masses work in gigantic underground factories -- until a sexy robot upsets the system. Make sure to get the version without Georgio Moroder's 80s soundtrack.
Every movie by Wim Wenders is worth seeing, but his elliptical 1987 film (the original title translates as "The Sky Above Berlin") wins over such fine films as "Alice in the Cities" and "Until the End of the World" because it seems to sum up everything the filmmaker has to say about life and the movies in one gorgeous, lyrical whole. With Bruno Ganz and Peter Falk.
3. Zur Sache SchätzchenDirected by May Spils, Germany's answer to the French New Wave is a sillier, more harmless version of "Breathless." Werner Enke plays a slacker who drifts through a Munich day and falls in love with Uschi Glas.
Volker Schlöndorff's Oscar-winning adaptation of Nobel-prize winner Günther Grass' World War II novel is a must-see film, as disturbing and surreal as German history itself.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, enfant terrible of the New German Cinema, pays tribute to Douglas Sirk melodramas for 1970s Germany with this touching and incisive melodrama about a cleaning woman's love for a Moroccan immigrant.
Barbara Sukowa stars in Margarete von Trotta's bracing biopic of the iconic socialist revolutionary. A powerful, uncompromising film.
Werner Herzog sent his "best fiend" Klaus Kinski into the South American jungle for this 1977 epic about a conquistadore driven insane by greed and ambition.
Flame haired Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu chase through Berlin in Tom Tykwer's riveting 1999 techno mindgame, the most dynamic and stylish film to come out of Germany in years.
The greatest submarine movie ever made, and one of the best movies about the realities of World War II, Wolfgang Petersen's claustrophobic underwater epic is a tour de force.
Leni Riefenstahl, otherwise known as "Hitler's favorite filmmaker," deserves no sympathy for her Nazi propaganda, but she does deserve credit for her exceptional skill behind the camera. Her documentary of the 1938 Olympic Games is a gorgeous film that celebrates the beauty of bodies in motion. Incidentally, her extraordinary life is also the subject of a fascinating documentary.