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The Lives of Others (2006)
"Das Leben der Anderen" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  30 March 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 235,543 users   Metascore: 89/100
Reviews: 396 user | 212 critic | 39 from Metacritic.com

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Thieme ...
Hans-Uwe Bauer ...
Paul Hauser
Volkmar Kleinert ...
Albert Jerska
Matthias Brenner ...
Karl Wallner
Charly Hübner ...
Herbert Knaup ...
Gregor Hessenstein
Bastian Trost ...
Häftling 227
Marie Gruber ...
Frau Meineke
Schriftexperte (as Zack Volker Michalowski)
Einsatzleiter in Uniform
Martin Brambach ...
Einsatzleiter Meyer


Gerd Wiesler is an officer with the Stasi, the East German secret police. The film begins in 1984 when Wiesler attends a play written by Georg Dreyman, who is considered by many to be the ultimate example of the loyal citizen. Wiesler has a gut feeling that Dreyman can't be as ideal as he seems and believes surveillance is called for. The Minister of Culture agrees but only later does Wiesler learn that the Minister sees Dreyman as a rival and lusts after his partner Christa-Maria. The more time he spends listening in on them, the more he comes to care about them. The once rigid Stasi officer begins to intervene in their lives, in a positive way, protecting them whenever possible. Eventually, Wiesler activities catch up to him and while there is no proof of wrongdoing, he finds himself in menial jobs - until the unbelievable happens. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Where power is absolute, nothing is private. [Scandinavian Blu-ray.] See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 March 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lives of Others  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$213,589 (USA) (9 February 2007)


$11,284,657 (USA) (7 September 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The entire budget of the film, about 2 million dollars (1.6 million Euro), was possible only because the actors were willing to work for 20% of their customary salary. See more »


Wiesler's belt is done and his shirt tucked in when the prostitute leaves yet when last seen it is clearly undone. However, Wiesler's head remains visible throughout and he is not seen to move. See more »


[first lines]
Guard: [subtitled version] Stand still. Eyes to the floor.
Guard: Walk on.
See more »


Featured in The 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2007) See more »


Stell Dich Mitten In Den Regen
Performed by Bayon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Outstandingly great movie
8 March 2007 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

I wonder why there has been so little written and publicized about this movie. This should be seen in every country and its merits trumpeted from the skies.

It starts off slowly and the locale is the former East Germany, inhabited by 16 million people who are being spied upon relentlessly by their secret police. In this very real world of the Berlin Wall, there are many Stasi, 90,000, overseeing the populace, aided and abetted by hundreds of thousands of informants. Many of these snitches were blackmailed or other pressures exerted (threats to children and loved ones) and a few obliged voluntarily.

What is truly amazing is that this is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's directorial debut, and he maintains a masterful hand throughout and keeps the story and the tension rolling from the first scene of interrogation which is filmed back and forth between a tape educating new Stasi as to interview techniques and to the actual cell itself where it was recorded.

The movie circles around three main characters and there is a wider circle of the powerful who pull the puppet strings for a variety of reasons which become clear as the movie unfolds.

First is Georg Dreyman, a playwright on the verge of celebrating his 40th birthday. Sebastian Koch, a tall,handsome actor dressed in writerly rumple, shares an apartment with his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), and exists within the strictures of the state-sponsored theatre. He is a decent man, and tries to win support for his blacklisted friends.

For reasons that become quite clear, Dreyman falls under suspicion and the whole sophisticated Stasi spying system comes into play in the era of 1984. His whole apartment is bugged and every sound is monitored.

The man in charge of all this is Captain Gerd Wiesler,(Ulrich Mühe). Ulrich's performance is nothing short of stunning. He starts as an almost robotic presence, dressed in gray, he almost disappears into every scene he's in. But one detects a clear intelligence in his bright eyes, the only part of him that's alive. Captain Wiesler lives in a non-descript arborited apartment, much like himself. He squeezes his food onto a plate from a tube.

But the captain starts to awaken slowly as he listens surreptitiously on the state of the art equipment secreted in the attic of Dreyman's building. He starts to fall in love with the couple and then pressure from above is brought to bear on him to dig for the dirt in Dreyman's life.

And he is in a dilemma now, as he is drawn further and further into the life of Dreman and his girlfriend.

I won't throw spoilers down. Suffice to say is that the story is enthralling right down to the very last frame. The acting is superb, the direction impeccable and the world of East Germany meticulously drawn with the viewer respected enough to find his or her own emotional path through the plot.

The ending is truly one of a kind. So right and true that I was left nodding, it was the only one possible.

A must see, I will sing the praises of this film to all I know. 10 out of 10 from me. Right up there in my top 50 of all time. I find it so disappointing that these movies don't get wider release AND compete for an Oscar in the best picture of the year and not just for best foreign film. Now there's a heretical thought!

270 of 292 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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