Germany does lots of things really well. Beer, Christmas, even beach holidays. But also, entertainment. I love a bit of German T.V or a movie from Deutschland; it keeps me connected with a place I love and lets me practice listening to German.
Often, this just highlights how much work my German needs, but never mind…
Anyway, to round off my little series of Germany themed posts, I thought I’d post my pick of German movies and T.V shows. This isn’t an on-trend round up, many of these are comfortable old favourites. Without further ado and in no particular order…
Starting in the 1980’s and rolling into the 1990’s and the fall of the Berlin Wall, this show introduces us to Kleo Straub, an unregistered elite Stasi agent whose evening activities involve nipping between East and West and bumping off enemies of the state.
The state turns on her and she is imprisoned, but the fall of The Wall is Kleo’s chance for both liberation and revenge. She embraces both, full throttle, and finds some unlikely allies along the way. Including the endearing Thilo, a West German Techno loving squatter.
Kleo is a highly stylised, hilarious in parts, Cold War era romp across Berlin and beyond. Jella Haase is fabulous in the title role.
A watch and watch again classic.
This three-part miniseries tracks the fortunes of five friends as they navigate Nazi Germany and WW2. The plot spans four years, starting with an optimistic get together in 1941 and ending with a reunion of sorts in 1945.
If vintage fashions are your thing, watch Katharina Schüttler as Greta closely. Some of her outfits are things of beauty, if a little impractical for the places in which she finds herself.
A brilliant series overall, but special mention for Tom Schilling. His portrayal of Friedhelm Winter being transformed from sensitive young man to battle hardened soldier is brilliant.
Deutschland 83/ 86 /89
Three seperate seasons following the fortunes of East German Martin Rauch (played perfectly by Jonas Nay) and, more broadly, the fortunes of the East German leadership.
It’s hard to sum this one up- it’s a clever, complex Cold War tale. Part political thriller, part family saga. Full of characters you’ll love, and some you’ll love to hate. As the plot twists, so will your loyalties.
If you haven’t already, give it a go. Get hooked on the theme tune, fall into the 80’s and binge watch them all.
Set in a fictional small German town (very similar to the one I used to love in) Dark is a complex but satisfying science fiction thriller.
When children start going missing, the pursuit of the truth behind the disappearances reveals connections between four families that branch into both the future and the past. The question is never just where a person is, but when.
Takes a bit of concentration once the plot starts to thicken, but worth the effort.
Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood
A brilliant watch and an appropriate one, as we are right in the heart of Oktoberfest season. The show follows wealthy Kurt Prank who wants to build a ‘beer palace’ and take the Munich brewing scene to the next level.
It doesn’t all go quite to plan; his daughter throws a spanner in the works by falling for the heir to a rival brewery. Kids, eh?
It’s rooted in real life events but not historically accurate. Writers didn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story involving plenty of drama and romance.
The Germans must like doing things in triplet, here’s another three-season gem. The main character in this one is really the location; the renowned Berlin hospital, Charité.
The show uses each season to chart a period of time and set of characters within its walls. The writers have perfected the art of weaving heartwarming personal stories into bigger historic events.
S1 follows the fortunes of Ida Lenze as she works to pay off the cost of her treatment in the 1800s against the backdrop of major vaccine breakthroughs. S2 sees Charité struggling through the end of WW2 while staff struggle with everyday life in Nazi Germany.
S3 takes us into Charité in the 1960’s. I’m yet to watch it although I’ve got it lined up for next time Mr THL works away. S3 is not currently on Netflix, so I picked up a copy on Amazon.
Cosy PJ’s, coffee, Malteasers and a trip to 1960’s Berlin. Perfect!
You know when a show rolls in with a tagline like, “History’s greatest empire, history’s greatest traitor, the untold story of the battle that changed the world.” it’s going to be a good one.
Barbarians follows the stories of Arminius and Thusnelda, both nobles of Germanic tribes, who are thrown together in an attempt to unite a tribal force against the Romans. What follows tests loyalties, costs lives and changes everything.
Great viewing, history and drama, costumes to die for, set in a beautiful part of Germany. There’s only one thing I don’t love about this show, and I wrote about it a while ago- have a read here.
From Us to Me
For a change of pace, how about a documentary?
In 1987 Amber Films made a documentary about people in the East German coastal town of Rostock. Interestingly, the film is quite female focused, interviewing women from the Brigade of Women Crane Drivers, amongst others. The film was released in the GDR, but then cancelled by authorities.
In 2013, Amber Films returned and traced key participants from the original production. They look back at their own lives in the 1980’s and reflect on their experiences of ‘ Die Wende’ and how lives have change in the decades since reunification.
Slight cheat here as this one is set in the Tyrol, but it’s near enough and is German language so we’ll go for it, shall we?
If you like a story set in a beautiful place, don’t mind if it’s a bit cheesy and can cope with slightly weird then this is the one for you. A beautiful visitor dies in the Tyrolean mountains, but the body disappears before police can investigate. Enter the sassy female lead detective and let the mayhem begin.
A bit murder mystery, a bit off beat fairy tale. Weirdly cosy and watchable. Not my usual thing, but easy viewing and had me hooked enough to want to solve the mystery.
I love a good horror, and by good horror I mean mostly good but slightly naff. The Presence or Die Präsenz delivers. Main character Markus takes his camera, girlfriend Rebecca and best friend Lukas to stay in an old castle in the German countryside.
What comes next is quite predictable- something doesn’t want them there and it doesn’t end well. However, this mid budget horror offering is nicely done. The ‘found footage’ scenes mix things up a bit and being just 80 minutes long, it doesn’t slow down or drag things out.
Throw in a few genuinely chilling moments and you’ve got a winner.
Tell me what you’ve been watching, German or otherwise. I’m always looking for inspiration. And to everyone who has read, liked, commented on my German series this past week- vielen dank.
I appreciate you all.