Thursday, 14 May 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - German Movies




For this week I will select a German film from three different eras. The first era will be pre 1933, the second era will from 1933-1945 and the final era will be post 1945. Just thought it would be interesting to mix it up a little.

Having already selected The Lives of Others in a previous Thursday Movie Pick I won't select it for this week but I assure you it would have been in the list if I hadn't already previously selected it.

Thursday Movie Picks is hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves


In the 1920s German expressionism was the height of experimental cinema and one of the most famous films of era was Nosferatu, an unofficial adaptation of the works of Bram Stoker which faced legal challenges from Stoker's estate. Directed by F.W Murnau, all Nosferatu prints were ordered to be destroyed but luckily one survived. Nosferatu is still a film with haunting images and contains a stunning Max Schreck performance. Nosferatu is a film that still has massive influence over the vampire subgenre.


Because my dissertation examined film propaganda during the Second World War I have Nazi Propaganda in my DVD collection, rest assured there isn't a swastika flag hanging nearby and I haven't got the films on a loop either.

You've more than likely have heard of Triumph of the Will and Olympia, both of which are directed by Leni Riefenstahl, so I won't select those two. The film I will select is Bismarck, a 1940 biography of Otto Von Bismarck who was a German statesman who united Germany in the latter half of the 19th century.  

The film was hugely successful financially and was used for extensive propaganda purposes. In the Nazi film industry feature films were used to draw parallels between Adolf Hitler and Germany's great leaders of the past such as Frederick the Great and Otto Von Bismarck. This was done to inspire faith in Germany's leader at a time of War. This was also something the British and Americans did with their respective leaders.

The comparisons drawn between Hitler and Bismarck, seen as the father of the United Germany (as Bismarck was a major figure in Germany’s unification in 1871), stress that Hitler is the father of the third, 1000 year German Reich. In the release booklet, Herman Goring drew comparisons to Hitler by arguing that Bismarck was a man who ‘fights [in a role given to him by destiny] against party politicians, liberal press, aristocracy and military, sustained only by his belief and knowledge' very much like Hitler.

Worth a watch to gain an insight into how the Nazis used feature films to spread propaganda.


Downfall is the greatest character study of Hitler, instead of presenting him as a one note psychopath Downfall presents him as a man capable of kindness, generosity and emotion but still showing his burning hatred and unparalleled evil acts and actions. Bruno Ganz's performance as the Nazi dictator is one of best and the film also inspired a parody Youtube video where Hitler rants about being banned from XBOX Live and the recent performances of Arsenal Football Club among other things.

23 comments:

  1. These all sound interesting. I haven't seen them, but I want to. I've always been interested in seeing Downfall because of those Hitler parodies. The one where he rants about a death on Game of Thrones is my favorite. lol

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    1. Haha. I saw the videos before the film as well. Luckily they don't detract from the power of the scene at all.


      You can find Nosferatu on Youtube and Downfall is found quite easily as well. Bismarck, on the other hand, will take more looking. You're not gonna find it in any old DVD shop.

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  2. All these sound interesting, I haven't seen any-a refrain I'm sure I'll be repeating this week since my German film viewing is miniscule. I have seen bits of Nosferatu but never the whole thing through. Downfall sounds intriguing.

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    1. Nosferatu is on Youtube and it's very short so even as a silent film it isnt too tough to sit through.

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  3. Nosferatu is such genius. LOVE it. Downfall is so much more than those Hitler ranting meme videos. Bruno Ganz is also in one of my picks this week!

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    1. Absolutely, the I enjoy the ranting videos but they don't take away from the dramatic power of the scene.

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  4. Nosferatu is such a classic and truly scary. I have to see Downfall from what you wrote and the parodies. You know, my mom, who is German, met Hitler. He shook her hand as well as many others lined up. She wished she had a bomb at the timb

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    1. Wow. That's quite something, what year did she meet him?

      I'm guessing you speak German and because of that the humour in the parody won't work. The video has Hitler ranting in German but with subtitles that don't match what he is saying. It's probably only funny if you don't know what he is saying.

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    2. She met him in 1943. She grew up under the Nazi regime (born in 1928). They took my mom away from home because the authorities felt she was not being educated correctly (she wouldn't do the Hitler salute properly and made fun of it). This did not go well when my mom did a hunger strike (another story). Later she had to be part of the Hitler youth (to this day she hates the boy scouts as it reminds her of the Hitler Youth). She was sent to Hamburg to help if there ever was a bombing. Well there was and she survived the bombing of Hamburg (another story) and about a month or so later, Hitler came to her home town on Wittenberg and she and a number of other young girls who were part of the Hitler Youth stood in line and he shook each girl's hand. She was 15 years old at the time. I am not fluent in German by any means although I can get by when in Europe. It would be funny to see this

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    3. I think 43 was when the war started to turn against Germany, but wow, what an eventful opening fifteen years. Thanks for the information, really interesting to read.

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  5. Nosferatu is an amazing film. Glad to see someone include it. I've kinda been avoiding Downfall. Not actively avoiding it, but several times I've narrowed my options to Downfall and some other movie. The other movie always won out. Great picks.

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    1. Downfall is very, very good. Make sure the movie it is up against is Transformers 4. Easy winner.

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  6. I've seen the DOWNFALL meme several times, but never the actual movie. I've never even heard of BISMARCK. I've seen NOSFERATU... and it dissapointed me.

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    1. Not surprised, Nazi propaganda feature films don''t often get mainstream coverage.

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  7. Downfall was on my list to watch for long enought hat I guess I forgot! Thanks for the reminder, and interesting picks!

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    1. Haha. Films that have been on my list for years continuously get bumped down.

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  8. I've seen bits of Nosferatu. I know Downfall because all those parodies. Even so, the actor's skill never escapes me. I haven't heard about your other choice, though.

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    1. Yeah, the still is powerful despite all the mocking.

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  9. I really want to see both versions of Nosferatu.

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    1. I'm not too keen on the Herzog version.

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  10. I came so close to choosing Downfall! Ganz is tremendous.

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  11. Haven't seen any of your picks. I have like most though seen that parody meme of Downfall.

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