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Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this is a first-rate thriller that, like Bertolucci's The Conformist and Coppola's The Conversation, opts for character development over car chases. The place is East Berlin, the year is 1984, and it all begins with a simple surveillance assignment: Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe in a restrained, yet deeply felt performance), a Stasi officer and a specialist in this kind of thing, has been assigned to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch, Black Book), a respected playwright, and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck, Mostly Martha). Though Dreyman is known to associate with the occasional dissident, like blacklisted director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert), his record is spotless. Everything changes when Wiesler discovers that Minister Hempf (Thomas Thieme) has an ulterior motive in spying on this seemingly upright citizen. In other words, it's personal, and Wiesler's sympathies shift from the government to its people--or at least to this one particular person. That would be risky enough, but then Wiesler uses his privileged position to affect a change in Dreyman's life. The God-like move he makes may be minor and untraceable, but it will have major consequences for all concerned, including Wiesler himself. Writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck starts with a simple premise that becomes more complicated and emotionally involving as his assured debut unfolds. Though three epilogues is, arguably, two too many, The Lives of Others is always elegant, never confusing. It's class with feeling. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Beyond The Lives of Others
Films from Germany
Other Cold War Films
More Arthouse Selections
from Sony Pictures Classics
The film story builds tensions at a perfect pace, increasing with every passing scene.
The story of "The Lives of Others" takes place in 1984 in East Berlin, when both Germanys were still separated by the wall as well as politics.
Simply put, if you want a glimpse of what it's like living in a Socialist state, watch this movie and you will get a good idea.
I lived in Berlin during the Cold War, fortunately on the western side of the Wall. Nevertheless numerous trips to the DDR were chilling enough to appreciate "Das Lebens des... Read morePublished 17 hours ago by Justin Scott
Very thought provoking, well-made movie. The order was filled right away.Published 6 days ago by Gisela
What a deeply moving story; at times, shocking, but overall an affirmation of the good in people, despite the overbearing propaganda that threatens to strangle them in the society... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Annette Angela
I love this movie. You have to read the dialogue since it is a foreign film. It makes you think but also teaches you about what can happen when a government controls society.Published 24 days ago by Patricia K.
The ending is melodramatic and predictable. Otherwise a pretty good movie.Published 28 days ago by M. H. Chan
The Lives of Others has its time setting in 1984.Capt. Gerd Wiesler is an agent of the Stasi,the East German Secret Police. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Desertman84
Couldn't resist buying this after reading all the reviews. An update to follow after I get to watch the moviePublished 1 month ago by I'm not an internet shopaholic -