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Culture fact
German-born turned American
film actress Marlene Dietrich
appears on the sleeve of the
Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band

Marlene Dietrich

Director: Maximilian Schell

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German Film (8)

BROWSE GERMAN FILMS: Contemporary German films 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 | New releases | East German films
German film classics & collections 1 - 2 | German directors &actors | Documentaries | German movie soundtracks

GERMAN FILM INDEX (alphabetical)
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German Film Classics and Collections 1

If you're interested in the development and history of film, you'll appreciate these classics, too:

Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy / BRD Trilogie

1. The Marriage of Maria Braun / Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1979)
2. Veronika Voss / Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982)
3. Lola (1981)
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Traces the history of post-war Germany in a series of films told through the eyes of three remarkable women.
There is at least one certifiable masterpiece in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy, and one could argue that all three films qualify for that honor. Conceived as a series of sociopolitical melodramas set during West Germany's "economic miracle" of post-war recovery (roughly 1947-60), these exquisitely crafted films found the prolific Fassbinder (1945-82) near the end of his astounding career and at the height of his creative powers, depicting post-war Germany as a land of repressed memory and surging capitalism, repressively avoiding any connection to the horrors of its Nazi past. Women were Fassbinder's conduit to analyzing the BDR (Bundesrepublik Deutchland) and its effect on the German character, resulting in three of the most remarkable female characters ever committed to film.
[...] In the established tradition of the Criterion Collection, extensive supplements explore the depth of Fassbinder's achievement. Three commentaries, each with their own uniquely personal and/or critical perspective, are among the finest Criterion has ever recorded. Interviews with Schygulla, Zech, Sukowa, and many of Fassbinder's closest collaborators pay latter-day tribute to Fassbinder and his extended family of on- and off-screen talent, while the 96-minute German TV documentary I Don't Just Want You to Love Me explores Fassbinder's tragically curtailed life and work through abundant film clips and interviews. A filmed 1978 interview with Fassbinder himself--at 49 minutes, the longest ever recorded--offers further insight into the psychology and chain-smoking intensity of a man who burned out from drugs and exhaustion at the age of 37. Along with the collected Adventures of Antoine Doinel, the BRD Trilogy is one of the most impressive DVD sets ever released, and a sparkling jewel in Criterion's crown.
Review by Jeff Shannon
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Fritz Lang Epic Collection

Director: Fritz Lang
Black/white silent film classics.
1. Metropolis (1927)
2. Die Nibelungen /
Part 1: Siegrieds Tod & Part 2: Kriemhild's Revenge (1924)
3. Woman in the Moon / Frau im Mond
4. Spies / Spione
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The Murderers are among us / Mörder unter uns

Drama (1946)
Director: Wolfgang Staudte
Starring: Hildegard Knef, Elly Burgmer
Ranked by critics as one of Germany’s most important films, The Murderers Are Among Us offers a wrenching look at history and humanity. The first feature film produced in Germany after World War II, it is set in Berlin just after the surrender, and the city is still being battered by air raids. The characters move through the half-destroyed husks of old buildings, and even simple acts like serving a meal at a table take on new meaning as the people try to put their lives back together. Susanne Wallner is a concentration camp survivor, eager to taste life again after her living death. Dr. Hans Mertens is a former German officer, unable to live with the guilt of what he and his former comrades have done. The two must quite literally learn to live side by side as they come to terms with the past and start to look toward the future. The film is beautifully and sensitively made, and possesses a shining optimism that is surprising for its time.
Review by Ali Davis
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Triumph of the Will / Triumph des Willens

Documentary / Propaganda (1934)
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Starring: Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring
Triumph of the Will is one of the most important films ever made. Not because it documents evil--more watchable examples are being made today. And not as a historical example of blind propaganda--those (much shorter) movies are merely laughable now. No, Riefenstahl's masterpiece--and it is a masterpiece, politics aside--combines the strengths of documentary and propaganda into a single, overwhelmingly powerful visual force.
Riefenstahl was hired by the Reich to create an eternal record of the 1934 rally at Nuremberg, and that's exactly what she does. You might not become a Nazi after watching her film, but you will understand too clearly how Germany fell under Hitler's spell. The early crowd scenes remind one of nothing so much as Beatles concert footage (if only their fans were so well behaved!).
Like the fascists it monumentalizes, Triumph of the Will overlooks its own weaknesses--at nearly two hours, the speeches tend to drone on, and the repeated visual motifs are a little over-hypnotic, especially for modern viewers. But the occasional iconic vista (banners lining the streets of Nuremberg, Hitler parting a sea of 200,000 party members standing at attention) will electrify anyone into wakefulness.
Review by Grant Balfour
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The Testament of Dr. Mabuse / Das Testament der Dr. Mabuse

Horror / Mystery (1933)
Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is Fritz Lang's sequel to his flamboyant Dr. Mabuse two-part epic of the 1920s, this time adding subtle use of sound to the creepy effects developed for the earlier film. Once a Moriarty-like mastermind, the haggard Dr M (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) has become an autistic asylum inmate who scrawls plans for daring crimes in his cell and exerts an unhealthy influence on his psychiatrist. Inspector Lohmann (Otto Wernicke), the jolly policeman from Lang's M , is puzzled by a series of daring crimes that bear the Mabuse signature, and a gang of thugs take instructions from a shadowy figure who claims after the doctor's death to be Mabuse reborn and is staging a reign of crime apparently designed to bring about the ruin of all law-abiding society.
Though it works best as a textbook thriller, some commentators, including Lang, suggested that the pulp plot was intended to allegorize the evil influence of the Nazi party, with a crime boss who rants like Hitler. The many impressive set-pieces still work, too: the pursuit of a spy through a grinding print-works, an assassination at a traffic light, hero and heroine trapped in a room with a bomb cutting a water main to flood their way to freedom, the persecution of the asylum head by a phantom of his patient, and a last-reel night-time chase.
Review by Kim Newman
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Crime thriller (1931)
Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke Black/white
Peter Lorre made film history with his startling performance as a psychotic murderer of children. Too elusive for the Berlin police, the killer is sought and marked by underworld criminals who are feeling the official fallout for his crimes. This riveting, 1931 German drama by Fritz Lang--an early talkie--unfolds against a breathtakingly expressionistic backdrop of shadows and clutter, an atmosphere of predestination that seems to be closing in on Lorre's terrified villain. M is an important piece of cinema's past along with a number of Lang's early German works, including Metropolis and Spies. (Lang eventually brought his influence directly to the American cinema in such films as Fury, They Clash by Night, and The Big Heat.) M shouldn't be missed. This original 111-minute version is a little different from what most people have seen in theaters.
Review by Tom Keogh
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The Blue Angel / Der blaue Engel

Drama / Musical (1930)
Director: Joseph von Sternberg
Starring: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich
For director Josef von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich it all began with The Blue Angel, one of the masterpieces of Germany's Weimar cinema. This landmark film thrust the sultry and unrestrained Dietrich on an unsuspecting international film audience. She plays the prototypical role of Lola, the singer who tempts repressed professor Emil Jannings (the king of expressionist actors) into complete submission night after night at the Blue Angel nightclub. The film perfectly captures the masochism and degradation of the Weimar Republic, just before the rise of Adolf Hitler. And yet the moral confusion exhibited by Jannings is really due to his own torment. Dietrich is merely an instrument of his innermost desires, standing on stage in top hat, stockings, and bare thighs singing "Falling in Love Again." This is the original German version, newly remastered and subtitled.
Review by Bill Desowitz
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GERMAN FILM INDEX (alphabetical)
<< BACK | BROWSE GERMAN FILMS (chronological): | NEXT>>

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