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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
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.
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.
His face is so expressive that its very stillness is powerful (and never more so than in the film's final and very satisfying moment).
Excellent movie! I have been wanting to watch this movie for quite a while and I am so glad I finally did. Great acting and real insight into East Berlin in the 1980's. Read morePublished 9 hours ago by Maria P. Mason
Great Movie! A must see for those who have no idea what life was like behind the iron curtain and the dangers of letting the State take power of our lives. Read morePublished 4 days ago by John
I was pleasantly surprised by this excellent film. It is one of the most mature and complex films I have seen all year. The plot is complex and intricate with a few surprises. Read morePublished 23 days ago by C. Collins
creepy creepy creepy Just horrifying that something like that could go on!Published 26 days ago by puffinbills
amazing movie. i love seeing how the spy changes emotionallyPublished 1 month ago by Gabrielle Zimmer