Heard of Werner Herzog? August Diehl? Bruno Ganz? Jürgen Prochnow? Klaus Kinski? If you haven't, you most likely have seen some of their work without realizing it.
Herzog is one of the most celebrated German New Cinema directors, and the rest are just some of the top German film actors.
Many of Germany's best talent have been sought out by Hollywood producers and directors for their own projects.
In the movie industry, German studios, such as Bavaria Film, are universally lauded for their high quality productions.
With budgets that are only a fraction of your typical Hollywood B movie, they turn-out strongly scripted, filmed and acted movies that receive international acclaim.
The film scripts are often based on events during World War II or the Cold War in East Germany, eras rich in drama.
Here's a few gems from years past, which won't disappoint should you decide to pop one into your DVD.
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) - 2006: One of the best films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing, and I've seen hundreds! Featuring Sebastian Koch and Martina Gedeck as an artist couple in Cold War era East Germany.
Unbeknownst to them, their every movement is observed and recorded by a Stasi spy (brilliantly acted by Ulrich Muhe), who slowly develops an affection for the pair despite having never met.
Das Boot (1982): Wolfgang Petersen's masterpiece, starring Jürgen Prochnow as the captain of a German submarine during the Second World War.
The movie was a critical and financial success, grossing 80 million dollars worldwide.
The movie was nominated for six Academy awards in 1982.
Fitzcarraldo (1982): Werner Herzog's incredible epic film starring Klaus Kinski.
The movie follows an opera loving maniacal entrepreneur (Kinski) dragging a steam boat and crew through the Amazon jungle! No special effects in this one, the stunning scenery and scores of natives are the real deal! They really did pull the boat over a mountain top! The documentary on the making of the movie is equally riveting.
Downfall (Der Untergang): Oliver Hirschbiegel's 2005 stirring recount of the final days of the Third Reich, with virtually all the action taking place in or around Hitler's bunker.
Bruno Ganz plays the Führer to maniacal perfection in this Academy award nominated film.
Be forewarned that there are several scenes which will linger in your mind for years, particularly the one where Frau Goebbels calmly poisons her five children, refusing to let them suffer the indignities of a Nazi-less world.
Good Bye, Lenin! (2004): This Wolfgang Becker comedy stars Daniel Brühl (the love struck young sharpshooter you saw in Inglourious Basterds) as a resourceful young man goes to great pains to make his dying Communist party mother believe that the Soviet East Germany is still alive and well in 1989 and the Berlin Wall still stands firm.
The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher): The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 2008 Academy awards.
Karl Markovics plays a Jewish master currency counterfeiter, recruited by the Nazis while interned in a concentration camp.
August Diehl (the vicious Gestapo officer from the tavern scene in Inglourious Basterds), plays a fellow prisoner bent on sabotaging his operation.
There are many more unforgettable German films out there, but after you get a taste of those I've just recommended, you might just go hunt down the rest yourself! Note that when one speaks of German cinema, one might also be talking about Austrian film.
Austria is a German speaking nation and the two countries frequently cooperate on film productions and their actors are interchangeable.