8 user 31 critic
In 1938, a German singer falls in love with a Jewish composer in Zurich, who helps Jews flee Nazi Germany. She wants to help but is forced back to Germany. Her song "Lili Marleen" becomes a hit with soldiers and the Nazi top.


Manfred Purzer (original screenplay), Joshua Sinclair (screenplay contributor) | 4 more credits »
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hanna Schygulla ... Willie
Giancarlo Giannini ... Robert
Mel Ferrer ... David Mendelsson
Karl-Heinz von Hassel Karl-Heinz von Hassel ... Henkel (as Karl Heinz von Hassel)
Erik Schumann ... von Strehlow
Hark Bohm ... Taschner
Gottfried John ... Aaron
Karin Baal ... Anna Lederer
Christine Kaufmann ... Miriam
Udo Kier ... Drewitz
Roger Fritz Roger Fritz ... Kauffmann
Rainer Will Rainer Will ... Bernt
Raúl Gimenez Raúl Gimenez ... Blonsky (as Raul Giminez)
Adrian Hoven ... Ginsberg
Willy Harlander Willy Harlander ... Prosel


In Switzerland, German singer Willie falls in love with Jewish composer, Robert, who offers resistance to the Nazis by helping refugees. But his family thinks Willie is a Nazi and may be a risk for them. One day Willie helps Robert but, has to stay in Germany. As Willie starts to sing the song 'Lili Marleen' she becomes very famous and every soldier hears that song via radio - even Hitler wants to meet her, but she still does not forget Robert, and helps to smuggle photos of concentration camps to the free Switzerland. Robert wants to visit her, but is captured. Will never see Willie again until war is over. Written by Marco Louis <Alouisius@hotline.pfalz.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance | War


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


West Germany's official Foreign Language Film submission at the 54th Academy Awards. The film failed to be nominated. See more »


The German officer, Kaufmann, who arrests Robert on the train wears the uniform of an SS-Gruppenfuhrer (General) - it is highly unlikely that an SS General of such rank would be checking identity papers at random on a train. See more »


Willie: In front of the barracks / In front of the big gate / Stood a lantern / And there it stands today / And so we want / To see each other / There again / By the lantern we want to stand / Just like Lili Marleen back then / Like Lili Marleen
See more »


Featured in Century of Cinema: Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »


Lili Marleen
(German Version)
(based on a poem from the 1915 book "Die kleine Hafenorgel" by Hans Leip)
Music By Norbert Schultze,
Vocals Hanna Schygulla
(p) 1981 Schlicht Musikverlag, Phonogram, GmbH, DRG Records, Inc., Philips
© Metropolis Records
Published By Brampton Music Ltd., Chappell Music Ltd., Peter Maurice Music,
EMI Music
See more »

User Reviews

A movie showing why asking for a favor, is owning a favor.
12 August 2005 | by tomlin05See all my reviews

I consider this movie a masterpiece, but it took me at least 4 o 5 times to see it, so as to realize what a great movie it was. First, it describes a face of WW2 that we don't usually see in Hollywood movies. In particular, German soldiers, army and the Nazi government are shown more "humanized". One of the facts that impressed me most was the mention, by the end of the movie, of a murder that took place in a forest in the last 20's... that forest is the place where the final chapters of Berlin Alexanderplatz take place: those are the woods where Reinhold kills Mieze. Another clue for those who like the details, is the representation of doors. Fassbinder is obsessed with the changes in people each time they walk across a door, or a door is opened. Many doors are shown in the screen, opened and closed. And the characters change in their personality, their acts, etc any time that happens. Have you noticed that?

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West Germany


English | German

Release Date:

14 January 1981 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Lili Marlene See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »


Box Office


DEM10,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,623, 16 February 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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