Leben der Anderen, Das   2006   Germany The Lives of Others
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Director:Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Studio:Sony Pictures
Writer:Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
IMDb Rating:8.5 (98,155 votes)
Awards:Won Oscar. Another 53 wins & 21 nominations
Genre:Drama, Thriller
Duration:138 min
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  ...  (Director)
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  ...  (Writer)
Martina Gedeck  ...  Christa-Maria Sieland
Ulrich Mühe  ...  Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler
Sebastian Koch  ...  Georg Dreyman
Ulrich Tukur  ...  Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz
Thomas Thieme  ...  Minister Bruno Hempf
Hans-Uwe Bauer  ...  Paul Hauser
Volkmar Kleinert  ...  Albert Jerska
Matthias Brenner  ...  Karl Wallner
Charly Hübner  ...  Udo
Herbert Knaup  ...  Gregor Hessenstein
Bastian Trost  ...  Häftling 227
Marie Gruber  ...  Frau Meineke
Volker Michalowski  ...  Schriftexperte (as Zack Volker Michalowski)
Werner Daehn  ...  Einsatzleiter in Uniform
Martin Brambach  ...  Einsatzleiter Meyer
Hagen Bogdanski  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: Before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's Secret Police Listened to Your Secrets


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

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