You may not know it, but you probably are already familiar with German actor Daniel Brühl. He has been quietly but consistently working and gaining experience with stellar role after stellar role in film and television projects.
Most recently he’s made a bit of a cross-over into the English language Hollywood market.
Perhaps you know him as Fredrick Zoller, the Nazi war hero, in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds or as Austrian F1 race car driver Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush — for which he earned himself an Oscar nomination — or as Julian Assange’s business partner Daniel Domscheit-Berg in The Fifth Estate.
Daniel Brühl has made some enjoyable and thought-provoking films in German that are definitely worth seeing!
So this month, let’s get to know this talented actor for three of his many German-language roles. Practice your German skills with Daniel Brühl and the films Good Bye, Lenin!, Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei, and Der ganz große Traum!
In the mid-1980s, even people living in the United States, England, and other English-speaking Western countries knew Nena. The petite German singer re-recorded her 1983 hit “99 Luftballons” in English as 1984’s “99 Red Balloons.” With the translated track she had an international hit on her hands that introduced her outside of the German language music world.
The Neue Deutsche Welle was making waves around the world. Literally, the “New German Wave,” was a genre of German music with roots in punk and rock that started in the late ’70s and early ’80s. With her charming pop appeal and German lyrics, German language learners can practice and get rocking with Nena.
Whether he is gracing the big screen or your television screen, Stipe Erceg can be difficult to miss. With his gaunt and chiseled features surrounding deep-set eyes, the actor is memorable before he has even spoken a word. You may already know Erceg for his roles in English language thrillers such as Unknown, starring Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger, or The Fourth State, starring Moritz Bleibtreu.
Udo Lindenberg first came to my attention thanks to Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre. I’ve read many of the books and writings of the author/journalist and if there’s one thing he loves, it’s Udo Lindenberg. He is a devoted fan and eventually became a close friend of the musician who left a mark on his childhood that never left.
With more than forty years in music and dozens (literally) of albums under his belt, Udo Lindenberg is a great musician you should get to know. Although his unique vocals can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for German language learners, don’t let it discourage you. Lindenberg’s music is fun and classic.
So, without further ado, let’s learn German with the music of Udo Lindenberg!
Stuttgart-born actress Nina Hoss could easily be filed under German actors you didn’t know you already know. Fans of the hit political television drama Homeland may recognize her as Astrid. Hoss has appeared in several episodes of the show as a German embassy worker and Peter Quinn’s former flame.
Or perhaps you may know her from the big screen in A Most Wanted Man where she worked alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, and fellow German Daniel Brühl. But her talents are not merely limited to acting. Hoss collaborated in 2014 with the Welsh alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers on their track “Europa geht durch mich” off their album Futurology.
But this month we’re getting to know Nina Hoss for her remarkable acting. Hoss has starring roles in some films that are interesting, intruiging, and great for learning German. I’m highlighting three of Hoss’ films: A Girl Called Rosemarie (Das Mädchen Rosemarie), The Elementary Particles (Elementarteilchen), and Jerichow!
Today, Herbert Grönemeyer is a famous and well-respected German musician whose albums soar to the top of the charts. But his musical career really took off, in part, due to his acting career.
In particular, after the release of 1981’s Das Boot. In the film, a young Grönemeyer portrays Lieutenant Werner, a journalist reporting from a German submarine during World War II. The lengthy film keeps you on the edge of your seat as the crew encounters one issue and misfortune after another. But while Das Boot was widely successful and received strong reviews, Grönemeyer’s career took off in a completely different direction not long after. He has continued to act — albeit sparingly.
These days, and for much of the past two decades, Grönemeyer has been best known as a musician. He is also the most successful artist in Germany. His combined album sales total more than 13 million, a strikingly and impressively high number. So it makes perfect sense for German language learners to give Grönemeyer a listen and get some practice!
This month’s featured band, the Donots, would fall into the category of “established.” It doesn’t matter what kind of music you are into it, there is a German-language band or artist making something that will appeal to you.
In 2019, the Donots celebrated their 25th anniversary. In the music industry (or anywhere, really), that’s quite an achievement. And it’s a testament to the music that these five pop-punk musicians create.
So if you don’t know, you’re about to get to know the punk poppers that call themselves Donots!
In the German-speaking world, Matthias Schweighöfer is a big deal. The still rather young actor has already appeared in over 70 films. He’s branched into writing, directing, and producing. And over the last few years, he’s been steadily working as a musician. Schweighöfer is well known for his comedic roles, often in romantic comedies that are a little bit over the top.
But part of what has made him so successful and so believable in his roles is his sheepish, boyish charm.
Sportfreunde Stiller will always have a special place in my heart. During my first visit to Germany in 2009, their version of Udo Jürgens’ “Ich war noch niemals in New York” was everywhere we turned in Berlin. Everywhere. The track was in constant circulation. At the time, the band had only recently released an MTV Unplugged in New York album and the track was in heavy rotation to promote it. Jürgens even guests on the track during a later live performance of the song. It was the soundtrack of our vacation and it always makes me a little sentimental.
Which brings me to this month’s featured German language music recommendation: Sportfreunde Stiller!
Romanian-German actress Alexandra Maria Lara is a familiar face both inside and outside of the German film industry. Born in Bucharest, Lara and her family fled Communist Romania in the early 1980s. The family eventually found refuge in West Germany. Today, she is a notable actress in the world of cinema. But not just in German films. You may have seen her in big Hollywood English-language films such as The Reader, the Ron Howard directed Rush, the Francis Ford Coppola directed Youth Without Youth, or the Anton Corbijn directed Control. Lara clearly is making her mark on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
Lara has appeared in major German language films like Der Untergang and the recent Amazon original series You Are Wanted. Practice your German language skills with these three film and television recommendations featuring actress Alexandra Maria Lara.
Learning a foreign language like German is difficult! There are no corners that you can cut and no shortcuts you can take. It is all about putting in the hard work. But, that doesn’t mean that learning a foreign language can’t be fun. With this German language learning gift guide, you can send a message of support to someone special in your life. Or, you can treat yourself as a reward for all of the time and energy you’re spending. It’s amazing how impactful a small thing like a kind word or a thoughtful gift can be to keeping someone motivated. Here are more than a dozen great gifts for a German language learner.