There are certain actors that have respect. They have consistently put forth good acting in good films. You can trust them and they’ve gained your respect. You know that if they’re in a movie, it’s highly likely it’s a decent film that is worth seeing. For me, Ulrich Tukur is one of those actors who has gained my respect. Apparently he can do it all, including singing and tickling the ivories in his band, Ulrich Tukur & Die Rhythmus Boys. But let’s focus on three of his films that are must-see movies that will also let you get some practice with your German: The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte), and John Rabe.
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 writer. The officer becomes so disenchanted, in fact, that he tries to protect the man he’s assigned to know everything about from the secret police. 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 is the debut full-length release from writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It also stars Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck.
The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte)
The White Ribbon is intense and riveting — and not simply because it’s shot in black and white. Set in a strict and religious village just before the outbreak of World War I, the people, especially the children, are governed by fear. Never is this more clear than after strange accidents begin happening in the village. But the men in power aren’t quite so innocent. Tukur portrays the baron that owns the land of the farming community.
Featuring big names in film like Daniel Brühl and Steve Buscemi, Tukur stars as the film’s title character in this drama based on true events and people and set in Nanking, China during World War II. A Siemens executive, Rabe attempts to use what little resources he has, including his reluctant membership in the Nazi party, to create an International Safety Zone and protect the Chinese from the Japanese invasions.
Top photo by Katharina John.