There is a great number of excellent German movies on all the major platforms, from dramas and thrillers to comedies and war movies. It is a rich cinematography that has been an influence on many others throughout the years, with its excellent directing and cast and brilliant choice of topics. Amazon Prime has done a great job with its choice of German movies, and here we have listed our ten favorites.
Head-On (Gegen die Wand, 2004)
What it’s about: This is a story of a 20-year-old Sibel who wishes to please her traditional parents but yearns for her freedom and life as a young woman. She attempts suicide and ends up in a hospital where she meets a 40-year-old Cahit who doesn’t want to have anything to do with Turkey. They befriend each other and soon fall in love, even though that wasn’t the plan at the beginning.
Why you should watch it: The most famous Fatih Akin movie, one which you should not miss. Of German-Turkish production, set in both Germany and Turkey, this movie will give you an excellent insight into the culture and tradition that Turkish youngsters need to obey.
The Edge of Heaven (Auf der anderen Seite, 2007 )
What it’s about: This is another excellent movie by Fatih Akin, the second part of his trilogy Liebe, Tod und Teufel, with Gegen die Wand being its first part. It is a pretty complex story about a Turkish man who travels to Istanbul to find and meet the daughter of his father’s ex-girlfriend.
Why you should watch it: Once again, Akin managed to deliver a brilliant story with excellent casting, and with this second part of his now well–known trilogy, he has interested us in Turkish culture, which he presents from an extremely detailed and personal point of view.
What it’s about: This is another beautiful adaptation based on one of the most beloved and unforgettable children’s books of all time, Heidi, written by Johanna Spyri. It tells the story of an eight-year-old orphan girl who is sent to the Swiss mountains to live with her grandfather. After some time, the aunt that gave her away to her grandad takes her back to Frankfurt to befriend Klara, a girl in a wheelchair, and keep her company. At first, extremely unhappy with this situation, Heidi slowly begins to accept her new way of life.
Why you should watch it: This is a true gem of a movie, and if you still haven’t read or seen any Heidi adaptations, you might find yourself enjoying this wonderful movie about this brave little girl who has to find where she belongs. It is a brilliant choice for a family day, as well.
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen, 2006)
What it’s about: This brilliant drama is set in 1984 and follows an officer with the Stasi, the East German secret police. He happens to believe there is much more to specific people around him and orders surveillance. He begins to listen in on them and slowly starts to get attached and begins helping them. But he gets in too deep and finds himself too involved. So much that the unbelievable will happen.
Why you should watch it: This movie won’t let you rest and will keep you alert until its very end. It is known for having an unforgettable ending, and it will definitely be discussed long after you’ve seen it. One of the greatest and one of the most talked about German movies in the last 15 years. It is suspenseful, emotional, and shocking.
The Wave (Die Welle, 2008)
What it’s about: Rainer Wenger is very popular among his students but is also unorthodox, and his new assignment is to teach autocracy to his students. Less than enthusiastic at first, he becomes more involved and engaged in the project after he witnesses the will and interest in his students. They are forced to be more invested in the issue of self-rule, and soon the assignment begins to resemble the events from Germany’s past, making things extremely weird and forcing everyone to ask themselves whether everything has gone too far.
Why you should watch it: This disturbing and shocking German drama thriller is a perfect example of what people are capable of doing when given power. It is a great choice if you want something a bit different, unique and original, and it is definitely one of the greatest filming achievements in German cinematography.
Balloon (Ballon, 2018)
What it’s about: This mystery thriller takes place in 1979, in East Germany, where we follow two families who failed to flee from East to West Germany in their self-built hot-air balloon. But they haven’t given up and are about to make their second attempt, but this time the East German State Police is chasing them, trying to put them down.
Why you should watch it: A story about bravery, hope, and people’s struggle to save their lives in the most difficult of times. This movie is intense and exciting and heartwarming, and heartbreaking at the same time, and it is a great choice if you are ready for a somewhat different story set in this dark part of German history.
Downfall (Untergang, 2004)
What it’s about: This movie brings us the story of Hitler’s last days, told by his final secretary. He gives his confessions in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII. There are a few more perspectives from various characters who will face us with Hitler we didn’t have a chance to see before.
Why you should watch it: This is one of the best German movies ever, and it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Even though it didn’t win, it is still one of the most famous European movies from 2000. It has been described and viewed as pretty controversial for revealing Hitler’s human side, but it still gained popularity and received praise, especially for Bruno Ganz’s interpretation of Hitler himself.
Who Am I (Kein System ist sicher, 2014)
What it’s about: This is a very good crime drama about Benjamin, a young man who goes through life unnoticed and almost invisible. It all changes when he meets a charismatic man named Max, who has more things in common with him than anyone would tell. Together with Max and his friends, Benjamin creates a hacking organization where he feels accepted for the first time in his life. But when they suddenly get on Europol’s most wanted list, Benjamin becomes one of the world’s most wanted hackers.
Why you should watch it: If you expect a fast-paced action movie with a few good thrillers and sci-fi moments, this is definitely a great choice for you. It is an interesting movie with an intriguing storyline, well acted, with a very good ending that will leave you perplexed, wanting to figure out what has just happened.
Never Look Away (Werk ohne Autor, 2018)
What it’s about: This movie follows the life of a young German artist named Kurt Barnet, an East German immigrant who still can’t get rid of his childhood and youth experiences during the Nazi regime. After meeting and falling in love with Ellie, he is certain that he has found the love of his life and his artistic side very soon comes to life. He begins to paint all the traumas his generation had to go through.
Why you should watch it: This movie is based on the life of Gerhard Richter, his wife, and his wife’s father, and it tells all the horrible things that happened at that time in Germany. It is very well-told, interesting, and brilliantly acted. If you wish to learn more about German history but not only through war movies, this might be a good choice for you.
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (1997)
What it’s about: This is a beautiful story of two young men who meet at a hospital and decide to make the best of their lives. Both are terminally ill but don’t want to greet death in their hospital bed. They decide to elope and live their last days to the fullest. With their bucket lists on their minds, the charismatic and complicated Martin and the quiet and insecure Rudi, embark on a journey that will give them purpose and make them cherish life’s biggest gifts. And what’s most important, they will form a friendship so strong and meaningful.
Why you should watch it: A sad story, but told with so much character and wit that sometimes we forget what’s behind it. Schweiger and Liefers are masterful in their performances, a duo that should be put on the list of one of the most iconic movie pairs ever. This movie is a must-see if you want an unforgettable story with some action, lots of laughs but also a few moments you will always remember.