Some filmmakers have a certain rhythm to their work. Such filmmakers release a new film every few years. They are prolific. But other filmmakers, like German director Wolfgang Becker labor longer on each project. Since the writer-director released his first film (Schmetterling) in 1988, he’s since released only five other full-length movies including a documentary. But quality and quantity are not synonymous. Which is why Wolfgang Becker is this month’s featured filmmaker recommendation for German language learners.
Das Leben ist eine Baustelle (Life Is All You Get)
Cowritten by Tom Tykwer (who is also one of Becker’s X Filme production partners), the 1997 film stars Jürgen Vogel as Jan. After Jan experiences the loss of his father, his girlfriend and his job, he’s at a low point in his life. Things change when he meets the unique Vera (portrayed by Christiane Paul).
Good Bye, Lenin!
Undoubtedly Becker’s most well-known film is the internationally respected Good Bye Lenin! It’s a comedy with heart and realism plus a few dark moments.
As Alex Kerner (portrayed by Daniel Brühl) tries to get his life together as a young man in East Germany, it isn’t easy. That fact that his mother is a strong supporter of the communist government and he isn’t doesn’t help either. Coincidentally, she falls into a coma after a near-fatal heart attack just as Germany reunites. 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. He forces the family to dress in the old styles.
Ich und Kaminski
Based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Kehlmann, Ich und Kaminksi sees Becker collaborate again with actor Daniel Brühl. Brühl stars as journalist Sebastian Zöllner. He pursues the blind and reclusive artist Manuel Kaminski with the intent of writing his biography. The catch? He believes the artist is close to death and he’s hoping to cash in with his exclusive.
Practice practice practice! Discover other great German language actors and actresses previously featured.