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The Reader (2008)

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Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
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2,022 ( 29)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 24 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Friederike Becht ...
Matthias Habich ...
Peter Berg
Frieder Venus ...
Doctor
Marie-Anne Fliegel ...
Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst ...
Woodyard Worker
Rainer Sellien ...
Torsten Michaelis ...
Sports Master
Moritz Grove ...
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Storyline

THE READER opens in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from "The Odyssey," "Huck Finn" and "The Lady with the Little Dog." Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Written by The Weinstein Company

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

How far would you go to protect a secret? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some scenes of sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

| | |

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Leitor  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$168,051 (USA) (12 December 2008)

Gross:

$34,180,954 (USA) (1 May 2009)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Michael is reading to Hannah: "She was dead, and past all help, or need of it.." and she begins to weep vehemently, he reads from Chapter 71 of The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. See more »

Goofs

When Michael visits New York in 1988, the cab he is in is being followed by a 2000's GMC SUV. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Brigitte: You didn't wake me.
Michael Berg: You were sleeping.
Brigitte: You let me sleep because you can't bear to have breakfast with me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits, other than the studio logo. See more »


Soundtracks

Making Time
Written by Eddie Phillips (as Edwin Phillips), Kenneth Pickett
Performed by The Creation (as Creation)
Courtesy of Polydor Records Ltd. (U.K.)
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Winslet Impressive In This Two-Movies-In-One Story
3 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Kate Winslet is just outstanding in this very interesting film that is almost two stories-in-one. The first part is a sexual story of an older woman having affairs with a teenage boy and the second part is her war crimes tale and what happens afterward. The first is a somewhat happy jaunt of a short story and the second is a very serious and depressing story. That's where Winslet really shines. Obviously, she's developed into an an outstanding actress.

The second part is what most people, I assume, will remember about this film. Can "Hanna Schmitz," a Nazi employee (so to speak), who was part of concentration camps, be a sympathetic character? To me, that's what it looked like that's the question the story was asking. The answer may have come in the final minutes of the movie when her ex-lover "Michael Berg," now grown up and played by Ralph Fiennes, confronts a survivor of the camp. That, too, was very intense and interesting scene. Lena Olin is riveting as "Rose/Illana Mather."

"The Reader" was full of quiet, but intense scenes. This is a very thought-provoking film, especially for one that doesn't start off that way but look almost like some soft-porn flick to get our attention. It is anything but that.

For Germans, this film must bring out many emotions and thoughts. Guilt and forgiveness are just two of the issues that are dealt with in this unique film. "Hanna Schmitz" turns out to be an incredibly simple-yet-complex person, unlike any I've encountered on film in a long time. You see her in all kinds of light, both good and bad.

Kudos, too, to David Kross' acting as the young Michael Berg. It must be strange for someone his age (barely turned 18) to do the scenes he did with 30-something Winslet.

Overall, a very different and excellent film that stays with you and makes you ponder its main characters.


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