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German Filmmakers

@ Fopp

German Filmmakers have been essential to the development of Cinema as we know it. Whether it be Fritz Lang’s hugely influential expressionist sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis, the equally influential Nosferatu, a precedent of early horror, or moving into the modern era with Werner Herzog’s historical epics. German Filmmakers have consistantly been at the cutting edge of cinema, frequently moving what was the avant-garde into the mainstream. This summer at Fopp we’re celebrating the best that German Filmmakers have to offer with DVD from £5 and Blu-ray from £8.

Aguirre, Wrath of God


director  Werner Herzog
starring  Klaus Kinski · Ruy Guerra · Helena Rojo
language(s)  German · english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Werner Herzog directs this study of megalomania, set in 16th Century Peru. In the year 1560, a Spanish expedition crosses the Peruvian Sierras in search of the legendary Inca city of El Dorado. A power struggle within the group leads to its deputy (Klaus Kinski) seizing control in bloody fashion, his desire to set up his own kingdom threatening to destroy them all. Cast and crew apparently endured hardships comparable to those suffered by the screen explorers.

Alice in the Cities


director  Wim Wenders
starring  Yella Rottländer · Rüdiger Vogler · Lisa Kreuzer
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

Wim Wenders co-writes and directs this German drama. After failing to finish an assignment in the United States, German journalist Philip Winter (Rudiger Vogler) leaves New York to return to Germany. At the airport he meets fellow German Lisa (Lisa Kreuzer) and agrees to watch her nine-year-old daughter Alice (Yella Rottlander) for her. But when Lisa fails to return as planned, Philip finds himself reluctantly escorting the independent-minded young girl around Europe on a journey to reunite her with her grandmother in West Germany.

The American Friend


director  Wim Wenders
starring  Dennis Hopper · Bruno Ganz · Lisa Kreuzer
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

This adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game is dominated by the electric interplay of Bruno Ganz and Dennis Hopper. Ganz plays Jonathan Zimmermann, a picture framer with a terminal medical condition. Through a series of encounters and machinations, he accepts money to kill a criminal in order to support his family after his death. He is aided by Tom Ripley (Hopper), an art forger. Unbeknown to Jonathan, Ripley is behind all the plans. However, the criminal and borderline sociopath’s feelings towards Jonathan eventually change and he feels a responsibility to take care of his new friend. Wenders’ neo-noir is a far cry from the previous adaptation of a novel featuring Highsmith’s most famous character. Rene Clement’s Plein Soleil, a 1960 adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley was all sun and glamour. (As was Anthony Minghella’s 1999 version.) Wenders’ take on the third novel in the Ripley series – which also used an element of the plot from the second, Ripley Under Ground – is grittier. And in Dennis Hopper, Ripley is a far more unsettling figure.

The Castle


director  Michael Haneke
starring  Ulrich Mühe · Susanne Lothar · Frank Giering
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Existential drama directed by Michael Haneke and adapted from the novel by Franz Kafka. Land surveyor, K. (Ulrich Muhe), arrives at a small village that houses a castle. Though he was invited to the castle by officials, authorities refuse to allow him to enter and befuddle him with increasingly bizarre bureaucratic obstacles. K. grows perplexed by this and ultimately feels alienated from the society he has entered into.

Das Boot


director  Wolfgang Petersen
starring  Jürgen Prochnow · Herbert Grönemeyer · Klaus Wennemann
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Wolfgang Petersen’s director’s cut version of life on a German U-96 features considerable material cut from the original feature. Regarded as one of the most accurate representations of Germany’s elite U-Boat crewmen during World War Two, the story is told from the crew’s perspective and emphasises both the long periods of boredom they put up with and the claustrophobic terror they experience when engaging the enemy. The central character of the tale is Lt. Werner (Herbert Gronemeyer), a war correspondent who is posted to the U-96 to observe life under Captain Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (Jurgen Prochnow) and Chief Engineer Fritz Grade (Klaus Wennemann).

 

Fitzcarraldo


director  Werner Herzog
starring  Klaus Kinski · Claudia Cardinale · José Lewgoy
language(s)  German · english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Drama written and directed by Werner Herzog. Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski) is an opera-loving entrepreneur who dreams of building an opera house in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. To finance his project he attempts to persuade the rubber business to extend into the jungle, and concocts a plan which involves moving his steamship over a mountain to a parallel waterway. In making his film of the visionary’s adventures, Herzog famously refused to use special effects and insisted instead on actually transporting a steamship over the mountains.

 

 

Funny Games


director  Michael Hanneke
starring  Naomi Watts · Tim Roth · Michael Pitt
language(s)  English
format  dvd and Blu-ray

 

In this US remake of his 1997 film ‘Funny Games’, director Michael Haneke delivers a savage critique on the way violence is portrayed in the media. Arriving at their remote holiday cabin in the Hamptons for a quiet vacation, George (Tim Roth), his wife Ann (Naomi Watts), and their young son Georgie (Devon Gearheart), find themselves subjected to a harrowing ordeal involving mental and physical torture, when two young, psychotic killers come calling.

Hangmen Also Die!


director  Fritz Lang
starring  Brian Donlevy · Walter Brennan · Anna Lee
language(s)  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

Classic war drama set in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation. The film depicts an Eastern Europe populated by spies, traitors and revolutionaries – a deadly funhouse of political intrigue in which every personal encounter brings with it the threat of betrayal. Pursued by the Germans after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Dr. Svoboda (Brain Donlevy) enlists the aid of a young woman (Anna Lee) who is oblivious to the lethal crosscurrents that surround her. As she learns more about the mysterious doctor, she grows aware of the involvement of her father (Walter Brennan) and fiance (Dennis O’Keefe) in the resistance, and soon finds herself entangled in the revolution’s secret operations.

 

 

Into the Abyss


director  Werner Herzog
language(s)  english
format  dvd

 

Werner Herzog’s typically probing documentary examines the case of two death row inmates accused of murdering three people in order to steal their car. The film is based around extensive interviews with the two men convicted of the crime: Jason Burkett, who will be eligible for parole in 2041, and Michael Perry, who was executed by lethal injection eight days after Herzog interviewed him. Herzog also talks to friends and family of both the accused and the victims of the crime, as well as prison officials, the death row chaplain and the head of the team of law enforcement officers responsible for preparing prisoners to be executed.

Kings of the Road


director  Wim Winders
starring  Rüdiger Vogler · Hanns Zischler · Lisa Kreuzer
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd  and Blu-ray

 

An unsettling encounter between two strangers opens this epic road movie, one of cinema’s most fascinating portraits of male friendship. A car races along a road, ending up in a shallow pond. Its distraught driver emerges, soaking wet. Robert (Hanns Zischler) is picked up by cinema projection engineer Bruno (Rudiger Vogler). They initially travel together in order for Robert’s clothes to dry out, but an unspoken bond is formed between the two and some friendly help transforms into something deeper. Wenders’ film works on various levels. It is a visually striking portrait of Germany – both its countryside, and the towns and cities the two men travel through. It is a rumination on the state of cinema, of a transformation from a classic era through to a modern, more divisive style. And it is a study of purely platonic friendship between two men. The ease Bruno and Robert quickly feel in each other’s company is a rare sight in cinema. But Wenders asks of this relationship, like so many other elements in his film, how long can such a situation last before progress forces it to move forward or come to an end? With its unhurried pace – yet moving swiftly through the three-hour running time – Kings of the Road is now regarded as one of the essential European films of the 1970s and a one of the great German films of the last 50 years.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly


director  Werner Herzog
starring  Dieter Dengler · Werner Herzog · Eugene Deatrick
language(s)  German · english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

 

In this award-winning documentary, acclaimed director Werner Herzog tells the remarkable story of Dieter Dengler, a German who moved to America at the age of 18 to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. After being shipped off to Vietnam, Dieter was shot down over Laos and taken prisoner. Despite torture and starvation – at one point he weighed 85 pounds – he escaped, and after a harrowing journey through the jungle on foot, returned home. Herzog accompanies Dieter back to the jungle to tell his incredible tale.

The Lives of Others


director  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
starring  Ulrich Mühe · Martina Gedeck · Sebastian Koch
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

Drama set in East Berlin prior to the fall of the communist government. Captain Gerd Weiser (Ulrich Muhe) is assigned to surveillance duties, specifically to collect information on popular dramatist Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress partner Christa Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). As he becomes more and more submerged in their lives, Weiser’s own attitudes to life, politics and the state begin to change, and it’s not long before he finds himself in a dangerous situation.

Lola


director  Rainer Werner Fassbinder
starring  Barbara Sukowa · Armin Mueller-Stahl
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd and Blu-ray

 

German drama co-written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Set in the 1950s, in a period of German economic expansion, it follows the double life of Lola (Barbara Sukowa), a steamy cabaret singer and single mother from the town of Coburg. When building inspector Von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl) begins an investigation into corrupt local property developer and brothel owner Schukert (Mario Adorf), he soon finds himself in a difficult position after falling in love with the alluring Lola, who just happens to be Schukert’s ex-lover.

Never Look Away


director  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
starring  Tom Schilling · Sebastian Koch · Paula Beer
language(s)  German · russian  subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

German drama written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The film follows young painter Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) as he attends a Dresden art school and falls in love with fashion student Ellie Seeband (Paula Beer) during the 1950s. Frustrated and dissatisfied with the restrictions of life in East Germany, the couple flee to the West, but find that, even there, they remain haunted by their shared past of growing up under the Nazi regime of the 1930s.

Nosferatu the Vampyre


director  Werner Herzog
starring  Klaus Kinski · Isabelle Adjani · Bruno Ganz
language(s)  German · english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Werner Herzog’s remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic gothic horror ‘Nosferatu’ (1922). Estate agent Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) arrives at Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski)’s castle in Transylvania to complete the sale of a property in Wismar. Despite having been warned that the Count is a vampire, Jonathan remains skeptical. His haunting stay at the castle rids him of any doubt, however, and in an attempt to escape he injures himself and ends up in hospital. Meanwhile, Dracula moves to Wismar where he preys on Jonathan’s wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani)…

Nosferatu


director  F.W. Murnau
starring  Max Schreck · Gustav von Wangenheim · Alexander Granach
language(s)  english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

F.W. Murnau’s silent vampire classic. Count Orlok (Max Schreck) decides to move from his ruined castle to the city of Bremen and hires real estate agent Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) to make the arrangements for him. But Orlok is also the vampire Nosferatu, and when he takes a shine to Hutter’s young wife Ellen (Greta Schroder), it seems that the worst is indeed possible. Adapted from Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ (though with character names changed for legal reasons), Murnau’s film also features some of the most famous sequences in cinema, including the Count’s climb up the stairs to Ellen’s room, his claw-hand outstretched and his crooked shadow on the wall. This is the version restored by the Munchner Filmmuseum and the Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, featuring a new score by James Bernard.

Pandora's Box


director  Georg W. Pabst
starring  Louise Brooks · Fritz Kortner · Francis Lederer
language(s)  German · english  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Georg W. Pabst’s silent classic stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, the femme fatale who causes passions to overheat wherever she goes. When her lover, Berlin newspaper editor Dr Ludwig Schon (Fritz Kortner), suffers an untimely death, Lulu subsequently takes up with his son Alwa (Franz Lederer) as she seeks to evade the attentions of the law when the authorities place the burden of guilt upon her for Schon’s death.

 

Paris, Texas


director  Wim Wenders
starring  Harry Dean Stanton · Nastassja Kinski · Dean Stockwell
language(s)  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

Both a road movie and a mystery, and featuring a sublime score by Ry Cooder, Wim Wenders’ Cannes winner is the pinnacle of the filmmaker’s career. Harry Dean Stanton plays Travis Henderson, who walks out of the desert after disappearing for four years. He is picked up by his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell), who with his wife Anne (Aurore Clement) have been looking after Travis’ son Hunter (Hunter Carson). A man ill at ease in everyday life, Travis feels the need to search for his ex, Jane (Nastassja Kinski), who left him some years before. In doing so, he attempts to bring his family back together, with unexpected results. Paris, Texas is the summation of Wenders’ fascination with the American West – its landscape and the people who populate it. Stanton’s grizzled face says more than any words could convey, his silence accentuating his feelings of dislocation from the modern world. Instead, Ry Cooder’s music, heavily influenced by Blind Willie Johnson’s blues standard Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground’, along with Robby Muller’s stunning cinematography, transpose Travis’ emotional and physical journey upon the vast sights and sounds of the American landscape. The script, co-written by L.M. Kit Carson and acclaimed playwright Sam Shepard, plays with the notion of myth, country and character – a place always out of reach or a relationship consigned to the past. It’s a potent idea that Wenders’ film brilliantly embraces.

Querelle


director  Rainer Werner Fassbinder
starring  Brad Davis · Franco Nero · Jeanne Moreau
language(s)  German · english · French  subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

On leave in the Port of Brest, a bisexual sailor (Brad Davis) murders a fellow seaman and visits a notorious brothel, where he gives full vent to his homosexual desires. One by one, the other habitues of the brothel succumb to his charms. Adapted from the novel by Jean Genet, this was Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s last film and his most vividly surreal in its design and photography.

The Shop Around the Corner


director  Ernst Lubitsch
starring  Margaret Sullavan · James Stewart · Frank Morgan
language(s)  english   subtitles  english
format  blu-ray

 

Tell bickering Budapest gift-shop workers Alfred and Klara that they love each other and they might call you crazy. No lover can compare to the romantic, secret pen pal each knows only as Dear Friend. What Alfred and Klara don’t know, of course, is that they are each other’s Dear Friend. In the third of their four luminous screen pairings, Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart star in this valentines to love wrapped in the ribbon of director Ernst Lubitsch’s trademark touch: wit instead of buffoonery, sentiment instead of sentimentality, affection instead of attitude. As enchanting today as it was yesterday, The Shop Around the Corner will cheerfully reward your patronage.

The Tin Drum


director  volker schlöndorff
written by  jean-claude carrière · volker schlöndorff
starring  david bennant · mario adorf · angela winkler
language(s)  german  subtitles  english
format  blu-ray

 

oskar is born in germany in 1924 with an advanced intellect. repulsed by the hypocrisy of adults and the irresponsibility of society, he refuses to grow older after his third birthday. while the chaotic world around him careers toward the madness and folly of world war ii, oskar pounds incessantly on his beloved tin/drum and perfects his uncannily piercing shrieks. the tin drum, which earned the palme d’or at cannes and the academy award for best foreign-language film, is a visionary adaptation from volker schlondorff (young torless) of nobel laureate gunter grass’s acclaimed novel, characterized by surreal imagery, arresting eroticism, and clear-eyed satire.

Victoria


director  Sebastian Schipper
starring  Laia Costa · Frederick Lau ·  Franz Rogowski
language(s)  German · english · Spanish  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Laia Costa stars in the title role of this German crime thriller. Living in Berlin for a three-month working trip, Spanish waitress Victoria (Costa) spends her days working in a cafe and her nights indulging in the German capital’s nightlife. After a late night out clubbing with Sonne (Frederick Lau), Boxer (Franz Rogowski), Blinker (Burak Yigit) and Fuss (Max Mauff), Victoria finds herself caught up in the group’s plans to pull off an ambitious bank heist later that same night.

The Werner Herzog Collection


director  Werner Herzog
format  blu-ray

 

The set features digitally remastered presentations of classics such as Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972); The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974); Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) plus many of Herzog’s hugely acclaimed short films.
Extras include Jack Bond’s long-unseen South Bank Show episode on Herzog from 1982 and Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams.

The White Ribbon


director  Michael Haneke
starring  Christian Friedel · Ernst Jacobi ·Leonie Benesch
language(s)  German    subtitles  english
format  dvd and blu-ray

 

Michael Haneke won the 2009 Cannes Palm d’Or for this two-and-a-half hour black and white study of German rural village life in 1913. Focusing in particular on the austere and often brutal environment of the village school, the film not only exposes the cruelty and hypocrisy of adults towards children but offers an insight into the undercurrents of patriarchy and repression that went on to shape 20th-century Germany. As the outbreak of war draws near, a series of violent and unexplained events shake the small community to its core. In true Haneke style, the film is less concerned with providing a definitive answer to ‘whodunnit’ than with examining the unhealthy processes that contribute to a sick, disenfranchised society.

World on a Wire


director  Rainer Werner Fassbinder
starring  Klaus Löwitsch · Barbara Valentin · Mascha Rabben
language(s)  German  subtitles  english
format  dvd

 

Sci-fi classic from 1973 written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. When Professor Vollmer (Adrian Hoven), the technical director of a major simulation program called Simulacron, dies in mysterious circumstances his colleague and successor Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch) seeks some explanation. After speaking with security advisor Gunther Lause (Ivan Desny) Stiller is informed Vollmer was on the brink of a major discovery before his death. When Lause disappears and none of his employees acknowledge that he ever existed Stiller becomes deeply sceptical about the nature of reality. Stiller probes these mysteries further only to be overcome with paranoia as he confronts the possibility of the entire world existing inside another world and this reality not being the only one.

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