You might already be familiar with German actor Daniel Brühl’s work and you don’t even know it. He’s been quietly building up experience with stellar film performances for years now. 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. But Daniel Brühl has made some enjoyable and thought-provoking films in German that are definitely worth seeing!
Good Bye, Lenin!
As Alex Kerner (portrayed by Brühl) tries to get his life together as a young man in East Germany. But it isn’t easy, especially when his mother is a strong supporter of the government and he isn’t. But when she falls into a coma after a near-fatal heart attack the Berlin Wall comes down and Germany is reunited. When she awakes, doctors tell Alex and his sister that any shock to their mother could be fatal. Fearful that news of the DDR’s demise could be the end for his mother, Alex concocts a plan to keep the news from her. He rigs up a television to show old programming and has a friend “broadcast” newscasts, he searches for food brands that now no longer exist and he forces the family to dress in the old styles. It’s a comedy with heart and realism plus a few dark moments. The film is directed by Wolfgang Becker and also includes actor Florian Lukas.
Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (Das Edukators)
In Das Edukators, Jan (Brühl) and his friend Peter (portrayed by Stipe Erceg) are anti-capitalist activists who break into wealthy homes. They aren’t there to steal anything but to help shake up the lives of the rich and indulgent. Peter’s girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch), convinces them to break into the home of a wealthy businessman. It just so happens that she got into a car accident with the man and now is in debt in order to pay restitution. The plan goes bad though when the businessman comes home during the break-in. With no other option, the trio abducts the man. They head into the mountains to lay low and figure out what to do. The film explores the culture of capitalism in everyday life while Jan and Jule get closer.
Der ganz große Traum (Lessons of a Dream)
Today, the German national soccer team is one of the best in the world. But it wasn’t that long ago that soccer was invented. In Der ganz große Traum, Daniel Brühl portrays Konrad Koch, a teacher hired to a school in Braunschweig. What he brings with him is his love of a new sport: soccer. But Koch’s attempts to teach the game to his pupils doesn’t sit well with the conservative institution or the local community. The film is, of course, a fictionalized account of history. However, it is nevertheless an extremely interesting to get a look at how the world’s most popular sport got its start in Germany.
Top photo from the actor’s Facebook page.