I want to understand the famous scene of movie "Der Untergang" (or Downfall) without looking at subtitles. I found out the official English subtitles do not translate the sentences very accurately both in terms of words and in terms of grammar.

For example, "Und im Osten ist der Feind bis zur Linie Lichtenberg, Mahlsdorf und Karlshorst gelangt" is translated to "In the east, they reached Lichtenberg, Mahlsdorf and Karlshorst" in the English subtitle, while based on my searching it actually means "In the east, the enemy reached to the line formed by Lichtenberg, Mahlsdorf and Karlshorst" to be accurate.

However even though I am able to figure out the accurate meaning of some sentences like the above one using sites like context.reverso.net, sometimes I am just not able to do so as I have no prior knowledge of the German language. For instance the word "dich doch" sometimes means "calm down" and sometimes means "yourself" based on my searching and I am not sure which meaning is used exactly in the movie. Other times, I can find out what a single word means but cannot make sense of the grammar or how the words connect.

Is there an efficient way of learning, or website, or service that can let me understand specific sentences grammatically and systematically for the German language?

  • 4
    Not an answer, but a comment on a misunderstanding in your question: "dich doch" doesn't mean anything alone. You probably meant "Beruhig dich doch!", which means "Calm down!", where "doch" is only used to emphasize or put more weight into the command. And yes, "dich" literally means "yourself" because in German "beruhigen" needs a target, even when being directed at yourself. ("Beruhig dich" = "Calm (yourself) down", "Beruhig ihn" = "Calm him down")
    – Sentry
    Oct 9, 2020 at 13:13
  • 1
    What you are actually asking for is an efficient way of learning German. I am afraid German SE is not the right place to help you in this regard because it's not about learning strategy but about the language itself.
    – Olafant
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:43
  • 1
    general approach: german.stackexchange.com/questions/9526/… Oct 9, 2020 at 14:47
  • @Sentry Thank you for explaining that detail. I have been struggling on that for hours.
    – cr001
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:52
  • 1
    doch doch, das wird doch noch passen: german.stackexchange.com/questions/995/how-to-use-doch ^^ => search in top bar for doch and you might get some similiar questions german.stackexchange.com/search?q=doch Oct 9, 2020 at 14:58

1 Answer 1


There's two ways to approach this:

Go to the your local Open University, a commercial language school, whatever, and book a German course. Start with A1, proceed to at least B2 level, then come back to your movie and understand (hopefully) most of it. That's obviously a pretty tedious method, and also will take quite a bit of time.

The second method is to first adjust your ambition level. Trying to understand a complex scene from a (pretty) complex movie without any prior knowledge of German is maybe asking a bit much.

With no prior knowledge whatsoever, try to understand and analyze a movie scene rather on the level of Pippy Longstocking's complexity level than the one you currently do. Make sure that movie is a story you know, try to get the gist of it, then go deeper. (Children learn the same way, without subtitles. And after 3-4 years only, they understand the scene...)

If it's only about that specific scene in that specific movie: First of all, make sure you have a correct written transcript of the original scene. Run that through various online translators, compare results against each other and the English subtitles (that's what you seem to do already, but your sources don't seem to be broad enough just yet - You should make sure you got as many slightly different translations as possible in order to find the common pattern. Then use a dictionary to get the literal translation of each word, compare again (that would rule out your "dich doch" mistake above). Seems tedious, but doable.

  • Can you recommend some good translators? The only good one I find is context.reverso.net. There isn't even a good online dictionary I can find for German by Googling.
    – cr001
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:51
  • dict.cc is a good online dictionary, leo.org as well. Other than translate.google.com and deepl.com i know no other online translators.
    – tofro
    Oct 9, 2020 at 14:57
  • 1
    A caveat, do not rely on German subtitles for a transcript. Subtitles are often edited down to allow people time to read them, and in the process words and even the meaning can be changed. Closed Caption subtitles (CC) are better if available, but even then there can be differences.
    – RDBury
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:37
  • 1
    On some sites, e,g, YouTube, you can slow down the video. I've found that helpful occasionally, especially if they're talking fast.
    – RDBury
    Oct 9, 2020 at 16:53
  • 1
    @cr001 deepl.com has translations with pretty good quality.
    – Polygnome
    Oct 9, 2020 at 20:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.