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Bavaria’s picturesque capital has been the inspiration for many film and TV shows over the years, from gritty stories of Nazi-resistance fighters to much-loved police detective dramas. If flicking through a guide book isn’t your thing, sit back, get some popcorn, and check out these films and TV shows to get a feel for Munich life.
Munich’s role as the heart of the Nazi movement has come back into the spotlight recently with the opening of museums such as the NS-Dokumentationszentrum that seek to explore what lead to such atrocities. This 2005 film focuses on Sophie Scholl, one of the members of the non-violent anti-Nazi resistance group, White Rose. The film follows her life and bravery until her execution in 1943 at just 21 years of age.
Munich’s answer to The Bill, SOKO – an abbreviation for Sonderkommission (Special Police Commission) – started as a ’70s procedural drama; over 545 episodes later, it is still popular today. Expect the classic murder-mysteries and whodunits of every police drama. Keep an eye out for Kriminalobermeister Fred Less, played by Bernd Herzsprung, who’s been with the cast since the show first aired in 1978. The series was so popular in Munich that there are now spin-offs for other cities in Germany, including Leipzig, Cologne and Stuttgart.
Who can resist a good courtroom drama? Far from the polished glamour and gratuitous sex scenes of The Good Wife, Café Meineid puts a more comedic spin on real-life cases as they wind their way through Germany’s bureaucratic legal system. Born and bred in Munich, lead actor Erich Hallhuber worked in opera and film as well as TV. His untimely death from an epileptic seizure led to the show’s end in 2003, airing a total of 147 episodes since its premiere in 1990.
This 2017 film, based on a true story, tells of a young man’s fight against the odds. Born visually impaired, protagonist Saliya manages to talk his way into a job at the famous Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich. His sidekick and pal Max helps him through the everyday trials of delivering first-class service, but there’s a bump in the road when he falls in love. It’s a heart-warming, easy watch.
The classic story of mismatched love has a cultural twist: Ali, a young Moroccan migrant worker, falls madly in love with Emmi, a 60-year-old German cleaner, and the film documents their challenge to be accepted (by both Germans and Moroccans) as a couple from different cultures with a major age gap. With debates about Syrian refugees at the forefront of discussion in Germany, this film’s important message about life and diversity in modern Germany is just as relevant today as when it was made in 1974.
While the 1972 Munich Olympics gave us Olympiapark, a vibrant part of the Munich cultural scene that regularly hosts concerts and festivals, they are also forever tainted by the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli athletes. This 1999 documentary film, narrated by Michael Douglas, contrasts the welcoming innocence of the Munich Tourism Board with interviews with the athletes’ widows. Its sensitive yet gripping treatment of a tough topic earned it an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.