While watching movies with your family can definitely be enjoyable, there are two far more important reasons to do it: improving your language skills and communication.
Spending a few hours a week or once every two weeks in front of the TV as a family encourages communication. You don’t need to be talking all the time.
Movie nights create a sense of cohesion within the family. They encourage emotional bonding, which leads to genuine, often heartfelt conversations. Your kids will then be more inclined to talk about their lives with you; about their relationships with friends, things that are going on at school, and eventually their boyfriends or girlfriends.
What is more, studies have shown that children who spend more free time with their parents tend to do better at school and stay away from violence. They also act out to a lesser degree.
Without further ado, here’s our top 10 German movies to watch with your family.
1. Ostwind – Zusammen Sind Wir Frei
This touching family film, released in 2015, tells of the rebellious girl Mika, who has failed the school year and must spend the whole summer studying. Her parents, both ambitious scientists, send her to her embittered grandmother Maria’s horse farm.
Maria used to be a professional rider, but an accident put an end to her career. Mika should have the necessary “discipline” to study effectively at the farm – at least that’s the idea.
An interesting bond between Mika and the title character Ostwind develops. Ostwind or East Wind (title translation: Together We Are Free) is the horse, who Maria was riding when she had the accident. She has plans to sell him to a man they call “The Hungarian”, who Mika suspects is a butcher.
A race is coming up, which Mika wants to win to prove to her grandmother the horse isn’t useless. She enlists the help of Mr. Kaan, a riding coach who’s unfortunately also her grandmother’s archenemy. Will she win?
Ostwind is an amazing way to experience living, breathing German from a kid’s point of view. Watch it now, especially if you’re a horse lover.
2. Der siebte Zwerge
The 7th Dwarf is a lively, exciting animation released in 3D in cinemas in 2014. This is the sequel to 7 Zwerge – Männer allein im Wand (7 dwarfs – Men Alone in the Woods) and 7 Zwerge – Der Wald ist night genug (7 dwarfs – The Woods aren’t Enough), two live action films.
Inspired by Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, the story follows the seventh dwarf Bubi as he helps a princess find the love of her life.
3. Die Blindgänger
The Blind Flyers is a beautiful, heartfelt movie about two blind, yet extremely musically gifted teenagers. Marie and Inga join forces to help the runaway Herbert go back to his homeland Kazakhstan, where his mother is. The three become exposed to the dark side of the sighted world while trying to make some money playing music on the street. Romance blooms when they form a band to take part in a music video contest on TV.
Your children don’t have to be musically inclined to love this movie. It is simply heartwarming. Your family won’t realize how quickly they are learning German when they’re watching it. There is a lot of learn not only about German language, but also customs, culture and, of course, music. The movie is most suitable for kids between 8 and 12.
You might recognize the diminutive form of “Sandmann” in the title. Technically, this is a TV series, not a movie, but it’s extremely popular. This cute and cuddly stop-motion animation goes all the way back to the days of the German Democratic Republic (pre-1990).
A lot of German kids have and continue to grow up watching it before bedtime. Why not introduce your children to it too?
5. Die Vorstadtkrokodile
The title of this movie is translated as The Crocodiles and it was released back in 2001. Some have called it the German version of a popular classic called “Bad News Bears”. The movie is based on a bestselling young adult novel.
The Crocodiles was so loved that two sequels were created. The story follows two outcasts who experience hilarious adventures after joining a local gang and taking on a mighty enemy.
Like our first choice, this film will help the whole family learn some German “child talk.” It is the language the kids of today speak.
6. Die Abenteuer von Pico und Columbus
The Adventure of Pico and Columbus was released across North America and dubbed into English, but the original is German. The plot revolves around the famous explorer – who else but Columbus – and his trans-Atlantic adventure.
He makes friends with a woodworm called Pico. They embark on an exciting journey to rescue a magical firefly.
7. Die sieben Raben
The Seven Ravens is almost a century old. It was released in the 30s as an animated puppet film. The movie tells the story of a peasant, whose daughter is very sick. He sends his seven sons to the well to bring her some water. Unfortunately, they drop the bucket in the well and can’t retrieve it.
The father thinks they’re out enjoying themselves somewhere when they do not return and curses them, turning them into witches.
The girl gets better and grows up. One day, she decides to go find her long-lost brothers. After a series of adventures, her brothers come back and return to their human form.
This old film’s puppetry is a bit scary, and we’d expect nothing less from something based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. It’s definitely worth seeing.
8. Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed
The first release of Prince Achmed’s Adventure was back in 1926, making it the first animation film in history. There are lots of reasons to see it even if you are not in need of listening practice.
Some of the best known and most innovative animators of the time, such as Berthold Bartosch and Walter Ruttman, made the movie famous. It is based on stories from the ancient Middle Eastern myth and fairy tale collection 1001 Nights.
9. Der Mondmann
In German, Mond means “moon”. The English title of this beautiful animation, released in 2012, is The Man on The Moon. As it suggests, the movie is about the man on the moon. He decides to leave space for an adventure on Earth as he’s getting really bored all alone up there.
The plot follows him throughout his different trials and tribulations with all the people he meets on our planet. He ends up forming beautiful friendships with some of them.
10. Lissi und der wilde Kaiser
Our tenth pick, Lissi and the Wild Kaiser, is a parody of the Austrian films with the title character Sissi. This magical animation is appropriate for children of all ages.
Actually, the Sissi trilogy is the most successful German-language one ever, so you could check that out as well. I haven’t included it here because it is Austrian, not German. Lissi is German and definitely worth watching.
In Lissi, a yeti has to kidnap the most beautiful girl in the world according to a pact he made with the Devil himself. Incidentally, that is Princess Lissi, our title and main character. The film follows her escapades with the yeti and her ensuing romance.
How to Watch German Movies – and Why
By watching German movies, you will be immersed in fascinating stories and even more fascinating characters. A lot of the films here and German films in general are based on local fairy tales and legends, which native English speakers aren’t familiar with.
Germany’s film industry is not to be underestimated. This country has fantastic animated films and dramas, action films, and other films for adults. You can also watch Pixar and Disney movies dubbed in German.
The biggest advantage of family-friendly German movies is the clear and comprehensible language used. As they target children who aren’t always capable of overcoming the challenges of their native language, they use easy words, simple sentences, and clear dialogue.
Many adults who are learning German start out with the idea to use the film as a language tool. However, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get lost in all the excitement of the plot. We recommend watching the film to understand the plot and then using it as a language exercise a while later.
How to Cope and Improve Your German
If you get lost, pause the movie and watch part of it in English. Most DVDs come with English subtitles. You can also watch movies with subtitles on YouTube.
Aim to watch the whole film in German the first time. To make sure you grasped it well, watch it again in English.
You and your kids might come across unknown words. When you do, write them down and check them in the dictionary after the movie. You will see the correct spelling and add the words to your vocab list.
Then, go over the list once every few days until you’ve memorized the words’ spelling and meaning.
One last benefit of watching German movies with the family is that they will appeal to your creative flair. Writing your thoughts on the movie down in German will definitely help improve your writing skills.
You could act some of the easier dialogues out with your children to practice speaking. You’ll have a great time.
Does that seem too ambitious for you? Then just talk about the movie with your family and German-speaking friends. If your children have such, watch it with them.
This will guarantee you’re always speaking in German and not English. It is so easy to succumb to the temptation to talk in one’s native language. Sadly, it’s not conducive to learning.
I hope you enjoyed the list – please leave a comment in English or German in the comments section below!