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The Lives of Others [Blu-ray] (2007)

Ulrich Mühe , Martina Gedeck , Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (484 customer reviews)

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Region 34810 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme
  • Directors: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Writers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Producers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Andreas Schreitmüller, Claudia Gladziejewski, Dirk Hamm, Max Wiedemann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 21, 2007
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (484 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000P46QTA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,499 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Lives of Others [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

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from Sony Pictures Classics

Stills from The Lives of Others (click for larger image)

Product Description

This critically-acclaimed, Oscar(r)-winning film (Best Foreign Language Film, 2006) is the erotic, emotionally-charged experience Lisa Schwarzbaum (Entertainment Weekly) calls "a nail-biter of a thriller!" Before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's population was closely monitored by the State Secret Police (Stasi). Only a few citizens above suspicion, like renowned pro-Socialist playwright Georg Dreyman, were permitted to lead private lives. But when a corrupt government official falls for Georg's stunning actress-girlfriend, Christa, an ambitious Stasi policeman is ordered to bug the writer's apartment to gain incriminating evidence against the rival. Now, what the officer discovers is about to dramatically change their lives - as well as his - in this seductive political thriller Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) proclaims is "the best kind of movie: one you can't get out of your head."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
238 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To HGW XX/7, with gratitude February 24, 2007
Hopefully, Academy members will rightfully award the Oscar tomorrow night for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (2006) to 'The Lives of Others.' Writer/Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut stands head and shoulders not only over the other nominees, but also over all the nominees for Best Picture. That so-called 'best' list pales in comparison to the heights attained by von Donnersmarck's creation. It is a expertly-plotted, richly-told depiction of life under the dominion of the East German spying apparatus, the Stasi.

'Lives' tracks the Stasi's efforts to bug and disrupt the lives of writer Georg Dreyman (a striking Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (the incomparable Martina Gedeck). Assigned to the case is Stasi agent, Gerd Wiesler, indelibly played by Ulrich Mühe. The reasons for spying on Dreyman and 'CSM' (as the Stasi calls her)? A Politburo minister has the hots for CSM. That's it. For that most personal of reasons, lives are ruined. A professional reviewer of 'Lives' really hit the nail on the head when he said that the movie turns on the fact that Weisler realizes he is spying into the life of a man who is 'vastly his moral superior.' That's it. You get propelled into Dreyman's life and you are struck immediately and permanently by his decency and the quality of his character. Over time, Weisler starts injecting himself into the proceedings. At that point, the sequence of events is irrevocably changed.

von Donnersmarck's movie is a continual series of one great scene after another. I thought perhaps it had reached its denouement with the fall of the Wall. But it keeps getting better. Dreyman requests his Stasi files. He begins to piece together the story and the role of Weisler.
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137 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Man's Thriller of Cold War Germany July 5, 2007
I often don't agree with Oscar choices, but this time they got it right.
"The Lives of Others" is one of the most interesting movies about communism that I have seen in a decade; it shows, as few others have, how communism suffocates human imagination...not just stifles political dissent.

A spy - Captain Wiesler - is given the task of eavesdropping on a well known playwright, not for political reasons, but because a communist boss is jealous of the man and wants his female lover for himself. As the spy begins listening in, he begins to question the values of his society and the integrity of his orders.. Up to that point, Wiesler dutifully obeyed without question. But as the spy continues to experience the world of the playwright, he starts to live the subject's life the enemy ironically becomes the friend. The experience helps Captain Wiesler grow in humanity so he ultimately makes the decision to run interference to save the playwright's life.

The film details the transformation of an organization man in a hostile society...and makes us remember the great books of totalitarian dangers such as Animal Farm, Anthem, Brave New World, and of course, 1984. (It is no accident that the key YEAR in which the events take place in this film is indeed 1984). Instead of leaving the viewer in a state of deep negativity, "The Lives of Others" gives us reason to hope, reason to believe that goodness may prevail over corruption. So by the end, I was deeply moved.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Subtitles lost on Widescreen TVs!!! December 25, 2007
First of all, this is not only one of the best foriegn films I have ever seen, but one of the best films I have seen period! I have nothing to add to the other five star reviews here that hasn't already been covered.

That said, it pains me to report that this DVD release has a serious flaw and that is the subtitling! Some other reviewers have commented on the poor quality of the translation in the subtitles, which may in fact be true. But even more of a detriment is the fact that if you watch this film on a widescreen TV you will not see ANY subtitles at all! This is because the disk was encoded to display the subtitles in the black dead space area, outside of the letterboxed region where film frames appear. Widescreen TVs don't display this dead space, they actually fill up the screen with the letterbox frame which means that the subtitles are completely lost! The disk offers no option to display the subtitles properly on a widscreen format television set, i.e. inside the letterbox frame. This is particularly ironic considering that SONY, the distributer of the DVD, is the same company that manufactured widescreen TV on which I discovered the problem! You'd think that they would have had a clue about how to format the subtitles on the DVD to work on all of their television models! If you have a conventional TV set, then you won't have this problem since it will display the letterbox with the black boundaries intact.

So if you are a widescreen television owner and are fluent in German, then I can heartily recommend this wonderful movie. If not, then make sure you have a conventional set on which to watch this DVD or wait for SONY to fix this embarassing mistake before you make the purchase!
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92 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Drone February 21, 2007
Gerd Weisler (Ulrich Muhe, appropriately drab) is an East German Stasi (Secret Police) drone: the type of man that his superiors count on to "get" his prey. Early on in this fascinating, superior film, Gerd arrives home from a hard day of spying on his fellow East Germans and prepares a meal: microwaved white rice onto which he squeezes tomato paste from a tube. This scene, in its spare, workmanlike manner sets the course and adjusts the sights of this film: the unremarkable, out of hate and jealousy assigned to bring down those deemed different, those deemed remarkable, those deemed talented. Weisler is the perfect Stasi automaton: a socialist monk with ice-cold eyes and an incorruptible true believer's faith in the system he has sworn to defend against "enemies of socialism" no matter where he finds them.
"The Lives of Others" begins in 1984 a particularly Orwellian date and 5 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Weisler is invited to a night of theater by his school friend and boss Colonel Grubitz (a slimy bureaucrat performance by Ulrich Tukor) for a performance of a play written by Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and starring Dreyman's live in girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck from "Mostly Martha"). Dreyman is tall, handsome, dresses in colors other than grey and Christa-Maria is wondrously gorgeous and a great actress to boot.
As Weisler watches Christa-Maria on stage he also scopes in on Dreyman, via his opera binoculars, watching Christa-Maria with love and admiration. The look of distrust and envy in Wailer's eyes is frightening: his eyes widen, squint and widen again. What does Weisler see or sense on that triumphant, for Dreyman and Sieland, night? Is it watching them basking in the glory of an audience's love and appreciation?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Retrospective
A realistic and gripping portrayal of life in a police state.
Published 6 days ago by Lloyd Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
supposed to be good. got it after seeing "Barbara" and liking that movie
Published 11 days ago by jmg
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this movie so
I loved this movie so, so much. When 9/11 happened, my daughter, who was 14 then, said, mom, do you think, if Bin Laden had been given a nice music CD, he would have been lured... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Sadhana Seelam
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
The danger of a weak political system well shown. East Germany was penetrated by spies and just a continuum of the Third Reich Secret police... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant today
I guess even the Stasi were human after all. The idea behind the movie really hits home for me. The Stasi are monitoring a writer who is one of the true believers in the system. Read more
Published 28 days ago by southasia
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lives of Others is a must!
The Lives of Others is one of the great movies. I've seen it before and it more than stands up. I just didn't understand why Amazon made us buy, not rent it.
Published 29 days ago by Joelle Sander
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb.
One of the very best movies I've had the pleasure to view.
Published 1 month ago by Josef
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent.
Used for film class, excellent.
Published 1 month ago by J
5.0 out of 5 stars Civil liberties ignored!
Cold War drama about spying on civilians behind the Iron Curtain, specifically East Germany, and the effects it has on the spies and the spied-on civilians. Read more
Published 1 month ago by tekenaar
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good book
Published 1 month ago by Eugene Woerner
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