The solo albums of German singer-songwriter Thees Uhlmann have those ideal qualities that make them perfect for those of us who are learning the German language. Uhlmann’s delivery is clean and crisp. What makes many of his songs special is the understated simplicity; which, for a language learner, makes it easier for us to understand. This month I’m featuring Thees Uhlmann for learning German with music. Light, easy and personal, it’s easy to be drawn in by the music of Thees Uhlmann.
This month, let’s practice German with the films of actress Hannah Herzsprung. The actress got her start in television as a teenager. Since then she’s gone on to appear in mainstream German language films alongside big names, such as Til Schweiger in Schutzengel. You may have seen her in The Reader, where she portrays the daughter of Michael, the lead character. Let’s get to know Hannah Herzsprung better and learn German with film! I’m highlighting three of Herzsprung’s films: Vier Minuten, Traumfrauen, and Lila, Lila.
If you follow German music, hip hop or just culture, then you’re likely already familiar with Sido. He was, or depending on your point of view still is, a gangsta rapper with songs about Berlin’s seedy underside of drugs, sex and money. But he’s also a pop favorite with some catchy hooks that have wide appeal and can be emotional or silly. He’s also an actor. And, of course, he isn’t without controversy. So this month, let’s get to know Sido, one of Germany’s best known rappers, and learn German with music.
Starting in the early 1960s until the 1980s, Germany experienced a surge in the country’s film movement. The New German Cinema, as it is called, included such notable names as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Volker Schlöndorff. Included in that illustrious and influential group is Margarethe von Trotta. She has been described as Germany’s leading female filmmaker. Trotta has a unique perspective when compared to her male counterparts. She uses her films to highlight the stories of strong women, often in political scenarios, to the big screen. Let’s learn German with the works of filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta.
Hamburg, Germany is known for its harbor and its nightlife. So it should be no surprise that the city is home to a strong music scene, from hip hop (Fettes Brot, Deichkind) and rock n roll (Udo Lindenberg). During the 1990s, Hamburg rock band Tocotronic lead the way of for the indie rock scene in the German language. So this month let’s learn German and get to know Tocotronic!
West Berlin-born Lars Eidinger is an artist in the truest sense of the word. He is perhaps first and foremost known for his work as a television and film actor. But he’s also a theater actor who has extensive experience with the works of Shakespeare, as well as a musician and a DJ. He can even border on a performance artist. Just this past fall he released I’ll Break Ya Legg, a compilation of his songs from 1998-2016. But this month I want to focus on Eidinger’s acting work. Let’s practice German with the film and television works of Lars Eidinger.
In the early 1990s as Stuttgart’s Die Fantastischen Vier were emerging with their take on hip hop, Hamburg‘s Fettes Brot were trying their hand at it. Today, along with their Stuttgarter brethren, Fettes Brot are among the groups that helped blaze and popularize the trail for hip hop in Germany in the German language. In this month’s German music feature, we’re getting to know Fettes Brot!
Still only in his twenties, German actor Jonas Nay caught the attention of the English-speaking world with, ironically, his role in Deutschland 83, a German language television show developed internationally. Despite his youth, Nay’s got a number of acting credits to his name, many in television. This month, let’s practice German with the film and television works of Jonas Nay.
As I learned recently, Hamburg, Germany is cool, fun and adventurous. So it’s not surprising to hear that longtime German hip hop and electro group Deichkind hail from the port city. Since their founding more than twenty years ago, Deichkind have won over German speaking music fans with catchy lyrics, heart-thumping beats and a unique extravagance that shines through in live performances. This month, let’s get to know Deichkind and practice German with their fun sound.
Tom Tykwer probably didn’t register on the radars of most English-speaking film audiences until his international hit Run Lola Run in 1998. The German language film catapulted Tykwer into the sights of Hollywood. By the early 2000s he was directing big name stars in English language films. Films like Heaven starring Cate Blanchett, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer starring the likes of Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman, The International starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, and Cloud Atlas starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
He is a director, writer, producer and even a composer. But he hasn’t strayed completely from German cinema. This month, let’s practice German with the films and television works of Tom Tykwer.