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The Best German Expressionism Movies Ever Made

“What are the best German Expressionism Movies?” We looked at 81 of the top German Expressionism films, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 21 films, all appearing on 3 or more “Best German Expressionism” movie lists, are ranked below by how many times they appear. The remaining 50+ movies, as well as the sources we used, are in alphabetical order on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 21 Best German Expressionism Movies Ever Made



21 .) Genuine: The Tragedy of a Vampire (1920) directed by Robert Wiene

Genuine: The Tragedy of a Vampire (1920)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • Wikipedia

Genuine (original German title: Genuine, die Tragödie eines seltsamen Hauses; literally: Genuine, the tragedy of a strange house) is a 1920 silent horror film from director by Robert Wiene (the same year he directed Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari). It was also released as Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire. The film’s sets were designed by the Expressionist painter César Klein.



20 .) Pandora’s Box (1929) directed by G. W. Pabst

Pandora's Box (1929)

Lists It Appears On:

  • List Challenges
  • Sporcle
  • Taste Of Cinema

Lulu is a young woman so beautiful and alluring that few can resist her siren charms. The men drawn into her web include respectable newspaper publisher Dr. Ludwig Schön, his musical producer son Alwa, circus performer Rodrigo Quast and Lulu’s seedy old friend, Schigolch. When Lulu’s charms inevitably lead to tragedy, the downward spiral encompasses them all.



19 .) The Man Who Laughs (1928) directed by Paul Leni

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Lists It Appears On:

  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Wikipedia

Gwynplaine, son of Lord Clancharlie, has a permanent smile carved on his face by the King, in revenge for Gwynplaine’s father’s treachery. Gwynplaine is adopted by a travelling showman and becomes a popular idol. He falls in love with the blind Dea. The king dies, and his evil jester tries to destroy or corrupt Gwynplaine.



18 .) The Student of Prague (1935) directed by Arthur Robison

The Student of Prague (1935)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • Sporcle

Prague in the 1860s: Balduin is a popular, handsome student, the best fencer in town, in amicable rivalry with his friend Dahl for the affections of Lydia, the innkeeper’s niece. While the students are celebrating Lydia’s birthday, the opera singer Julia Stella arrives at the inn – and Balduin’s life begins to unravel. He is immediately infatuated with the glamorous singer – but she is already kept by an admirer, the wealthy and foppish Baron Waldis. How can a poor student hope to compete? The mysterious Dr. Carpis, who also has ties to Julia and is jealous of the Baron, intervenes. But the price will be higher than Balduin can ever imagine. He risks his sanity and his life – perhaps his very soul – haunted by his own reflection. ×



17 .) Destiny (1921) directed by Fritz Lang

Destiny (1921)

Lists It Appears On:

  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Wikipedia

As a young couple stops and rests in a small village inn, the man is abducted by Death and is sequestered behind a huge doorless, windowless wall. The woman finds a mystic entrance and is met by Death, who tells her three separate stories set in exotic locales, all involving circumstances similar to hers. In each story, a woman, trying to save her lover from his ultimate tragic fate, fails. The young lady realizes the meaning of the tales and takes the only step she can to reunite herself with her lover. ×



16 .) From Morn to Midnight (1920) directed by Karl Heinz Martin

From Morn to Midnight (1920)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • Wikipedia

A cashier in a bank in a small German town is alerted to the power of money by the visit of a rich Italian lady. He embezzles 60, 000 Marks and leaves for the capital city, where he attempts to find satisfaction in politics, sport, love and religion.



15 .) Nerves (1919) directed by Robert Reinert

Nerves (1919)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Wikipedia

“In Nerven, writer-director-producer Robert Reinert tried to capture the “nervous epidemic” caused by war and misery which “drives people mad”. This unique portrait of the life in 1919 Germany, filmed on location in Munich, describes the cases of different people from all levels of society: Factory owner Roloff who looses his mind in view of catastrophies and social disturbances, teacher John who is the hero of the masses and Marja who turns into a radical revolutionary. Using different fragments the Munich Film Museum could reconstruct this forgotten German classic which is a historic document and anticipates already elements of the Expressionist cinema of the 1920s. …Nerves” ×



14 .) The Hands of Orlac (1924) directed by Robert Wiene

The Hands of Orlac (1924)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • Wikipedia

A world-famous pianist loses both hands in an accident. When new hands are grafted on, he is horrified to learn they once belonged to a murderer.



13 .) Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922) directed by Fritz Lang

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922)

Lists It Appears On:

  • CineCollage
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI

Arch-criminal Dr. Mabuse, who is a master of disguise and has been hypnotising people into doing his bidding, sets out to make a fortune and run Berlin. Detective Wenk sets out to stop him.



12 .) Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) directed by F. W. Murnau

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

Lists It Appears On:

  • CineCollage
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • What Culture

A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.



11 .) Waxworks (1924) directed by Leo Birinsky

Waxworks (1924)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Wikipedia

A poet is hired by the owner of a wax museum in a circus to write tales about Harun al Raschid, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper. While writing, the poet and the daughter of the owner, Eva, fantasize the fantastic stories and fall in love for each other.



10 .) Phantom (1922) directed by F.W. Murnau

Phantom (1922)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Sporcle
  • Wikipedia

Lorenz Lubota is a city clerk with no direction in life. One day on his way to work he is run over by a woman driving a chariot and he is immediately infatuated with her.



9 .) The Student of Prague (1913) directed by Paul Wegener

The Student of Prague (1913)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • MUBI
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Wikipedia

A poor student rescues a beautiful countess and soon becomes obsessed with her. A sorcerer makes a deal with the young man to give him fabulous wealth and anything he wants, if he will sign his name to a contract. The student hurriedly signs the contract, but doesn’t know what he’s in for.



8 .) Warning Shadows (1923) directed by Arthur Robison

Warning Shadows (1923)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Taste Of Cinema

During a dinner given by a wealthy baron and his wife, attended by four of her suitors in a 19th century German manor, a shadow-player rescues the marriage by giving all the guests a vision what might happen tonight if the baron stays jealous and the suitors do not reduce their advances towards his beautiful wife. Or was it a vision?



7 .) The Last Laugh (1924) directed by F.W. Murnau

The Last Laugh (1924)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • Wikipedia

An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.



6 .) Faust (1926) directed by F.W. Murnau

Faust (1926)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Sporcle
  • What Culture
  • Wikipedia

God and Satan war over earth; to settle things, they wager on the soul of Faust, a learned and prayerful alchemist.



5 .) The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920) directed by Carl Boese

The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip
  • Wikipedia

In the 16th century, the Jews of Prague face persecution. Rabbi Loew creates a giant golem out of clay, to protect the people. This film should not be confused with director Paul Wegener’s with Henrik Galeen 1915 mostly lost film The Golem (Der Golem) which was his first film to explore the myth.



4 .) M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang

M (1931)

Lists It Appears On:

  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip
  • What Culture
  • Wikipedia

In this classic German thriller, Hans Beckert, a serial killer who preys on children, becomes the focus of a massive Berlin police manhunt. Beckert’s heinous crimes are so repellant and disruptive to city life that he is even targeted by others in the seedy underworld network. With both cops and criminals in pursuit, the murderer soon realizes that people are on his trail, sending him into a tense, panicked attempt to escape justice.



3 .) Nosferatu (1922) directed by F.W. Murnau

Nosferatu (1922)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Sporcle
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Culture Trip
  • What Culture
  • Wikipedia

Vampire Count Orlok is interested in a new residence and in his real estate agent’s young wife. F. W. Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”



2 .) Metropolis (1927) directed by Fritz Lang

Metropolis (1927)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Sporcle
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip
  • What Culture
  • Wikipedia

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.



1 .) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) directed by Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Lists It Appears On:

  • BFI
  • IMDB
  • IMDB 2
  • List Challenges
  • Mooky Chick
  • MUBI
  • Open Culture
  • Sporcle
  • Taste Of Cinema
  • The Cinemaholic
  • The Culture Trip
  • What Culture
  • Wikipedia

Francis, a young man, recalls in his memory the horrible experiences he and his fiancée Jane recently went through. It is the annual fair in Holstenwall. Francis and his friend Alan visit The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, an exhibit where the mysterious doctor shows the somnambulist Cesare, and awakens him for some moments from his death-like sleep. When Alan asks Cesare about his future, Cesare answers that he will die before dawn. The next morning Alan is found dead. Francis suspects Cesare of being the murderer, and starts spying on him and Dr. Caligari. ×




The 50+ Additional Best German Expressionism Films



# Movies Directors Lists
22 Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924) Yakov Protazanov IMDB
MUBI
23 Algol   MUBI
Wikipedia
24 Crime and Punishment (1923) Robert Wiene IMDB
MUBI
25 Schatten (Warning Shadows)   Sporcle
Wikipedia
26 The Cat and the Canary   MUBI
Wikipedia
27 The Chronicles of the Gray House (1925) Arthur von Gerlach IMDB
MUBI
28 The City Without Jews (1924) H.K. Breslauer IMDB
MUBI
29 The Student of Prague (1926)   BFI
List Challenges
30 The Three Lights (1921) Fritz Lang IMDB
IMDB 2
31 The Wildcat (1921) Ernst Lubitsch IMDB
MUBI
32 Vampyr   MUBI
Wikipedia
33 Aguirre   The Cinemaholic
34 Ali: Fear Eats the Soul R. W. Fassbinder The Cinemaholic
35 Asphalt   Wikipedia
36 Das Boot Wolfgang Peterson The Cinemaholic
37 Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari   CineCollage
38
Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Wax Works)
  Sporcle
39
Der Golem, How He Came into the World
  Sporcle
40 Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh)   Sporcle
41 Der Mude Tod   Sporcle
42 Der Schatz   CineCollage
43 Die Libenlungen (Siegfried)   Sporcle
44 Die Nibelungen   Wikipedia
45 Die Straße (1923) Karl Grune IMDB
46 Downfall Oliver Hirschbiegel The Cinemaholic
47 Dr. Mabuse der Spieler   CineCollage
48
Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler – Part 2: Inferno – A Game of People of Our Time (1922)
  List Challenges
49 Earth Spirit   MUBI
50 F. W. Murnau   CineCollage
51 Head-On Fatih Akin The Cinemaholic
52 Last Laugh (1924)   What Culture
53 New Year’s Eve   Wikipedia
54 Orlacs Hände   CineCollage
55 Panic in the House of Ardon   Wikipedia
56 Pappa ante Portas Vicco von Bulow The Cinemaholic
57 Power (1920) Hans Werckmeister IMDB
58 Raskolnikow   Wikipedia
59 Run Lola Run Tom Tykwer The Cinemaholic
60 Secrets of a Soul   MUBI
61 Shattered   Wikipedia
62 Spione   CineCollage
63 Tartuffe   Wikipedia
64 The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)   What Culture
65 The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser Werner Herzog The Cinemaholic
66 The Lives of Others Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck The Cinemaholic
67 The Man Who Cheated Life (1926) Henrik Galeen IMDB
68 The Mandarin   MUBI
69 The Overcoat   MUBI
70 The Phantom Hour   Wikipedia
71 The Street   MUBI
72 The Testament of Dr. Mabuse   MUBI
73 The Treasure   Wikipedia
74 The White Ribbon Michael Haneke The Cinemaholic
75 Toni Erdmann Maren Ade The Cinemaholic
76 Torgus   MUBI
77 Unheimliche Geschichten   MUBI
78 Vanina   MUBI
79 Vanina oder Die Galgenhochzeit (1922) Arthur von Gerlach IMDB
80 Variety (1925)   BFI
81 Wings of Desire Wim Wenders The Cinemaholic


14 Best German Expressionism Film Sources/Lists



Source Article
BFI 10 great German Expressionist films
CineCollage cineCollage :: German Expressionism
IMDB Best German Expressionism Movies
IMDB 2 BEST WORKS OF GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST CINEMA
List Challenges German Expressionism
Mooky Chick German expressionist cinema – a beginner’s guide
MUBI German Expressionism: The World of Light and Shadow
Open Culture 10 Great German Expressionist Films: From Nosferatu to The Cabinet
Sporcle Famous German Expressionism Films 1919-1930 Quiz Stats
Taste Of Cinema 10 Essential Films For An Introduction To German Expressionist Cinema
The Cinemaholic 15 Best German Movies of All Time
The Culture Trip Top 5 German Expressionist Films
What Culture 8 Essential German Expressionism Films You Must See
Wikipedia Category:German Expressionist films

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