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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.
This is one of the best films I've ever seen. Extraordinary acting, writing and direction. You will not regret purchasing this movie, you'll want to have this in your video... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Nicole J.
Profound movie that is instructive of where East Germany was in stark relief to the world of today and the NSAs intrusive spying upon our own citizens. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Ryan of Indiana
Even viewing this movie with subtitles, it is unforgettable. Shocking and powerful. It captures the dangers of the police statePublished 19 days ago by Paul
I watched this on "instant play" and I have to say every USA citizen and every politician needs to watch this!Published 20 days ago by Loving Him
Gripping story, but probably someone that high in the Stasi rankings would not have been spending hours with head phones on. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Lorraine Comanor
This could possibly be the best thing to come out of the Cold War. Even more than the ubiquity of Coca-Cola. But then, it's not as good as Dr. Strangelove, so it's a close second.Published 26 days ago by Raizel