If Sebastian Koch looks familiar, it would not be all too surprising. In recent years the Karlsruhe-born, Stuttgart-raised actor has been popping up in Hollywood. He portrayed pioneering sexual reassignment surgeon Dr. Kurt Warnekros in 2015’s The Danish Girl, Stasi-employed lawyer Wolfgang Vogel in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and as the boss of Carrie Mathison (aka Claire Danes) on the fifth season of Homeland. Koch has a large filmography of notable films in German, as well as English. Many of the films have a political twist, relating to the Second World War or the Cold War. Get to know Sebastian Koch and practice your German language skills with this month’s German film recommendations.
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)
Set in 1984 East Germany, the Stasi is apart of everyday life: whether you know it or not. A Stasi officer becomes both consumed and disenchanted with his assignment monitoring the most private moments of a celebrated playwright, George Dreyman portrayed by Koch. The officer becomes so disenchanted, in fact, that he tries to protect the man he’s assigned to surveil. The Lives of Others is a thrilling drama about the race to remain secret and shows just how much power those in control had. The film also stars Martina Gedeck and Ulrich Tukur and is the debut full-length feature from director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
The Tunnel (Der Tunnel)
Based on true events, The Tunnel (Der Tunnel) is a made-for-television German film. The film is set in Berlin in 1961 just as the DDR is closing the border with West Berlin. Two friends, including Sebastian Koch as engineer Matthis and Heino Ferch as mastermind Harry, work with others to help friends and loved ones escape from the East by way of a tunnel. But is their secret plan really so secret?
Operation Valkyrie (Stauffenberg)
Tom Cruise is famous for donning an eye patch to portray Claus von Stauffenberg in the 2008 film Valkyrie. But Sebastian Koch did it first in the 2004 television film Stauffenberg (or Operation Valkyrie internationally). The German/Austrian film industries tackled the true story of one of the best known attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The film won the German television prize for best film.
Practice practice practice! Discover other great German language actors and actresses previously featured.
Top photo by Mathias Bothor, courtesy of Sebastian Koch’s official website.