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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.



(screenplay), (book)
1,011 ( 205)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carla Berg
Emily Berg
Thomas Berg
Friederike Becht ...
Angela Berg
Peter Berg
Frieder Venus ...
Marie-Anne Fliegel ...
Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst ...
Woodyard Worker
Torsten Michaelis ...
Sports Master
Moritz Grove ...


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


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Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Leitor  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$168,051, 14 December 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


English film debut of Florian Bartholomäi, appearing as Michael's older brother, Thomas. See more »


When Older Michael first gets into his car, it is completely covered with dew or raindrops. In the following scene, the car is totally dry. See more »


[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.
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Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in Youth in Revolt (2009) See more »


Don't Look Back
Written by Jackson C. Frank
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Reading, Writing and the Wonderful Kate

David Hare wrote one of my favorite female characters in "Plenty", Meryl Streep brought her to life in the most extraordinary way. Here, Hare writes another power house female character. It doesn't have the intellectual aspirations of "Plenty" but there is also a form of mental illness in his character. Kate Winslet is magnificent. Her early scenes with the wonderful David Kross are filled with compelling, contradictory and totally believable undertones. My misgivings are to be pinned on Stephen Daldry, the director. His sins as a filmmaker start to become a sort of trade mark, visible and palpable in the moving "Billy Elliot" and the shattering "The Hours" I can't quite pinpoint what it is but in "The Reader" that element is more obvious than in the other two. Maybe it has to do with loftiness. There are moments so frustratingly long and slow here that he lost me in more than one occasion. In any case, the cast makes this film a rewarding experience. Besides Kate Winslet and David Kross. The tortured Ralph Finnes has a couple of wonderful moments as well as Bruno Ganz and Lina Olin in a dual role.

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