German Films: Director Volker Schlöndorff

Learn German, German Films

Volker Schlöndorff

Born in Wiesbaden, Germany but raised in Paris, France, Volker Schlöndorff is part of Germany’s New German Cinema. The movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw inspiring German film makers like Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders burst onto the scene. These film makers have pushed boundaries and changed the way films were made and viewed. The effect is still visible today.

Schlöndorff was at the helm as director for a number of notable films. His film version of Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum won him an Oscar. Following his success in German cinema, he branched out to English language films. Today, his films don’t stick to a single language but are still tackling serious topics. Take, for example, 2014’s Diplomacy. Set in a single night near the end of World War II, the film follows Sweden’s ambassador to France as he tries to use diplomatic means to convince a German general not to destroy Paris as the country withdraws from the city. Volker Schlöndorff is also set to release Return to Montauk in 2017, starring Nina Hoss and Stellan Skarsgård.

the tin drum director Volker Schlöndorff

The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel)

Set in Danzig after World War I, 1979’s The Tin Drum follows Oskar Matzerath, a little boy with a wisdom far beyond his years. Disgusted by adults and society, he decides to stop aging after his third birthday. On this birthday, he is gifted a tin drum. The surreal and satirical film sees Oskar drumming as chaos takes over his world as World War II approaches.

die verlorene ehre der katharina blum from director Volker Schlöndorff

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum)

Based on the Heinrich Böll novel of the same name, Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum was directed by Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta, to whom he was married until 1991. After Katharina meets a charming man at a party and spends the night with him. As a result, she is unwittingly thrust into the spotlight. The man is an alleged leftist terrorist who has committed a bank robbery. And he has disappeared without a trace. The police and the tabloids descend upon Katharina. It should be noted that the film, as well as the book, both open with the following note: “The characters and action in this story are purely fictitious. Should the description of certain journalistic practices result in a resemblance to the practices of Bild-Zeitung, such resemblance is neither intentional, nor fortuitous, but unavoidable.”

legend of rita from director Volker Schlöndorff

The Legend of Rita (Die Stille nach dem Schuß)

Die Stille nach dem Schuß is from 2000, however, you wouldn’t know it. The film is notably shot in a way hearkening back to the 1970s era in which it is set. The Legend of Rita imagines the collusion between East Germany’s Stasi and West Germany’s leftist terrorist group the Red Army Faction. It sees RAF member Rita Vogt serving time in prison in the West after killing a police officer. After a daring escape from prison, she is hidden in the East.

Practice practice practice! Discover other great German language actors and actresses previously featured.

Top photo by Siebbi ( [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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