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The Lives of Others (2006) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Spoilers (3)
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.
All the listening/recording props used in the film are actual Stasi equipment on loan from museums and collectors. The props master had himself spent two years in a Stasi prison and insisted upon absolute authenticity down to the machine used at the end of the film to steam-open up to 600 letters per hour.
The punchline of the joke that Grubitz tells in the cafeteria, about there being no difference between Honecker and a telephone, is a play on the words 'aufhängen' and 'neuwählen'. In terms of a telephone it means hang up and redial, respectively. In terms of politics it means hang somebody and elect someone new.
Director Donnersmarck spent a month translating the screenplay into French and sending it to Gabriel Yared to entice his participation as composer for the film. For the scene in which Dreyman plays the Sonata For A Good Man on piano, Donnersmarck asked Yared to write a composition that in two minutes would turn Lenin away from all the atrocities he later committed. This pivotal scene was the germinal idea around which the original screenplay was conceived and constructed.
The film set a record in 2006 for getting the most nominations (11) for the German Film Awards ever.
In a book describing the background story of this movie, Ulrich Mühe accused his ex-wife Jenny Gröllmann of being an unofficial agent for the East German secret service ("Staatsicherheit").
The cover of the prop Der Spiegel magazine featuring the Dreyman article was designed by the publication specifically for the film.
According to Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's commentary on the deleted scene of the prostitute at Wiesler's apartment, he auditioned real prostitutes for the part, until finally casting body painter Gabi Fleming.
Although it was very common for national flags and coats of arms of the former GDR to be placed almost anywhere in public places and institutions, not a single one was shown throughout the whole movie (except for one artistic representation of the CoA, with the hanging rope over it, on the cover of Der Spiegel magazine).
In 2006 the film was turned down by Dieter Kosslick and his selection jury for the Berlin International Film Festival.
The German DVD of this film was recalled due to some statements director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck made in his audio commentary about the alleged activities of politician Gregor Gysi and actress Jenny Gröllmann as unofficial agents (IM) for the "Stasi" (secret police of former East Germany). New and old revisions of the DVD can be distinguished by a marking on the back spine (old retail/rental: Z4/Z4R, new retail/rental: Z4A/Z4S).
Ranked 2nd best film of 2007 by Empire magazine, narrowly missing the top spot to The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).
First feature film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
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The Brecht poem that Wiesler reads is called "Erinnerung an die Marie A.".
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Four actors from this film appeared in Amen. (2002): Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Mühe, Ulrich Tukur and Hinnerk Schönemann.
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Nicolette Krebitz auditioned for the role of Christa, which eventually went to Martina Gedeck.
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Director Cameo 

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck: Heard on the letter opener's radio earpiece, announcing the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Ulrich Mühe, who plays Stasi-officer Wiesler, lived in East-Germany as a stage actor during the period depicted in the movie. Just like Dreyman at the end, Mühe once read his personal Stasi file, and found out that some of his fellow actors had been (involuntary) informants to spy on him. When asked how he prepared for his role as a Stasi officer, Mühe simply replied, "I remembered"
The letter-opener that informs Wiesler that the Berlin Wall is open near the end of the film is the same Stasi officer that tells the joke about Honecker in the cafeteria near the beginning of the film (Unterleutnant Axel Stiegler).
Ironically, at the end of the film, years after the Berlin Wall is torn down, Wiesler buys a copy of Dreyman's new book at the Karl Marx Buchhandlung, translation: Karl Marx Bookstore.

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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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