A groundbreaking 1931 film leads the list of five best German erotic movies. Known for their frankness in dealing with sexuality, German filmmakers have often clashed with U.S. censors.
- “Maedchen in Uniform” This 1931 film was one of the first to portray homosexuality, and it does so with a lyricism that makes it one of the best German erotic movies. The story has a familiar setting—a boarding school—and familiar overtones of sexual repression and forbidden love. Amidst this atmosphere, a young girl, Manuela, falls in love with one of her teachers. The film was banned in the U.S. because of the lesbian theme. Suitably shocking for 1931 audiences must have been the scene where the teacher dutifully kisses each girl goodnight on the forehead and then delivers a long kiss on the lips to Manuela. Remade in 1958 with Lili Palmer and Romy Schneider, the film’s original version is still one not to be missed.
- “Therese and Isabelle” The boarding school setting figures yet again in this 1968 erotic German film that is also about lesbian love. The sex scenes between the young female students are frequent and well-developed and not exploitative, a feat for a film about lesbianism in the 60’s. Therese is the older, more mature of the girls and teaches Isabelle the ways of sex, love and romance. The film begins with Therese as an adult returning to the boarding school to reminisce about her relationship with Isabelle. Director Radley Metzger made many much more explicit erotic films, but this one is notable for its honesty and depiction of budding sexuality between girls.
- “Breaking the Surface” (“Auftauchen”) A flawed but compelling movie, this 2007 film won Best New Director at the Brooklyn Film Festival. Henriette Heinze in the main role of Nadja is fascinating to watch in all her various states of dress and undress, of which the “undress” ones make up most of the film. The scenes with new boyfriend Darius are aptly described in “Variety” as “a hot mixture of realistic sex and poetic tenderness.” The storyline leaves something to be desired, but it is still one of the best German erotic films.
- “The House in the Macchia” (“Das Haus im Ginster”) This 1992 film fulfills its place in the best of German erotic films by taking another kind of forbidden romance and capitalizing on the taboo. By an extreme coincidence a teacher, Romain, drives to meet his wife on vacation and picks up his step-daughter Sara who has basically disappeared from their lives. What ensues is the tension created by Sara’s teasing of Romain and the suspense of wondering when he will give in to it, even though his wife (her mother) appears on the scene. The sex scenes between Romain and Sara are passionate, earthy and realistic.
- “Nosferatu the Vampyre”(“Nosferatu: Phantom der Nach”) Famed German director Werner Herzog’s remake of the 1922 classic, “Nosferatu” (1979) gives us the Dracula story at its most carnal and shocking. Heavy on the suspense and light on the erotic, this is still a compelling movie for how it reveals the underlying sexual tension behind the whole vampirism theme. Klaus Kinski as the vampire is repulsive and Isabella Adjani as Lucy, his doomed victim, is stunning, so the Beauty and the Beast theme with its erotic appeal is fully present. Though not a traditional selection for best in erotic films, this German classic’s mythic eroticism is what makes it a great film.