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Toni Erdmann Filmstill Sandra Hüller
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Komplizen Film

Laughter in times of quarantine

Jochen Kürten als
April 3, 2020

It's not easy to laugh right now. But finding cheerful distraction during the coronavirus crisis is legitimate, says DW film expert Jochen Kürten. He has selected 10 legendary comedies for home viewing.


Laughing helps to ease a difficult situation. Of course, one shouldn't deny the challenges we face at the moment and the coronavirus pandemic definitely shouldn't be laughed away. But when the world goes into quarantine and people stay in their homes, you have to ask yourself: what to do with all that time? Isn't it legitimate to have a cheerful distraction? Watching television, be it the classic manner, or through streaming platforms, is surely becoming one of the main sources of entertainment for many people these days.

Time for really great comedies

Choosing the right films, however, is sometimes difficult even in the best of times. During quarantine, it may be even harder. What should you watch? There are so many television channels and digital streaming platforms to choose from, not to mention all the DVDs or Blu-ray discs one can order. It's almost overwhelming. Film lovers now have the chance to pause for a moment and finally watch the classics that they have always wanted to see.

Charlie Chaplin in 'The Gold Rush' (1925)
Charlie Chaplin in 'The Gold Rush' (1925)Image: picture alliance/United Archives

Comedies come a dime a dozen: funny and absurd, melancholy and intelligent, silly and abstruse. They have been made since cinema was born. Even in the silent film era, at the very beginning of film history, actors, producers and directors put their humor into action. Leading actors would slip on banana peels while walking down the street; there would be exaggerated brawls in pubs, or mix-ups, or a rowdy battle of the sexes — all these humorous scenes have entertained audiences since pictures began to move.

Home cinema fun

So we've come up with some suggestions: 10 films from 10 decades of cinema history, available worldwide on DVD, Blu-ray or via streaming. Of course, the selection is entirely subjective. Who knows, if the lockdowns last even longer, we may just add more suggestions to our list in the coming weeks. But, for now, here is our cheerful selection, from The General from the early days of cinema (1926) to contemporary films such as Toni Erdmann. Have fun — and a liberating laugh!

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