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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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(screenplay), (book)
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2,161 ( 41)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Friederike Becht ...
...
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:

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Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Leitor  »

Filming Locations:

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Latin lines Michael quotes to Hanna are "Quo, quo scelesti ruitis? Aut cur dexteris / aptantur enses conditi?" These are the opening lines of Horace's 7th Epode, a short poem where he expresses outrage at the fact that his countrymen are still engaged in civil war. "Villains, where are you rushing to? Why are your hands / Grasping those swords that were sheathed?" (translation A.S. Kline). The Greek lines he quotes are the opening stanza of Sappho's 16th fragment: (transliterated) "Oi men ippeon stroton, oi de pesdon, / oi de naon phais' epi gan melainan / emmenai kalliston, ego de ken' ot- / to tis eratai". "Some say a host of horsemen, others of infantry, and others of ships, is the most beautiful thing on the dark earth: but I say, it is what you love." (translation Denys Page). See more »

Goofs

In the street scene just before Michael and Hanna go on their bicycle trip (1958), a Volkswagen beetle drives by which has amber turn-signals in the taillights; these were not introduced until the 1962 model year. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in The 85th Annual Academy Awards (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Making Time
Written by Eddie Phillips (as Edwin Phillips) and Kenny Pickett (as Kenneth Pickett)
Performed by The Creation (as Creation)
Courtesy of Polydor Records Ltd. (U.K.)
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
About As Unbiased and Objective As Any Form Of A Medium Can Get
28 January 2009 | by (Queens, New York) – See all my reviews

The Reader is one of my favorite movies from the year 2008. It is incredibly complex in the way you react to the characters of the movie. It carries many emotions from sensuality to anger all the way back to that of sympathy and resolution. Many moves advertise themselves as unbiased and fair but nothing gets close to that like The Reader which is able to build sympathy for a character you would never think you could feel towards.

The acting in the movie was phenomenal. Especially that of Kate Winslet who draws out many emotions from whoever is watching. She plays an ex-Nazi guard who has an affair with a 16 year old boy played very well by David Kross. Her bitter, cold attitude, random behavior as well as her past history seems unjustifiable and deplorable. Yet you can do nothing more than feel empathy and compassion towards the shame and humiliation she feels about her one well kept secret. In the course of her affair she ask for one thing, to be read to. From this do you see the humanity within her. Ralph Fiennes also gave quite a nice performance as an older Michael Berg who looks back on his life and then later finds a way to open himself up through his time of self reflection and sudden realizations towards life. David Kross plays the younger Michael Berg whose performance was undoubtedly a very good one, maintaining his presence in not letting himself being totally overshadowed. Overall the performances are very deep and will keep you thinking long after you have seen the movie.

The directing and writing also was very key to the emotions felt in this movie. Every scene had to be done precisely and consistently to feel genuinely touched rather than feeling falsely drawn in. Stephen Daldry did that under his great subtle direction. The writing by David Hare allowed actors such as Ralph Fiennes, David Kross and of course Kate Winslet to give such stunning and deep performances and take the film to another level.

I found this movie to be very compelling in many ways. The emotions felt here were not cheap gimmicks but that of feeling true sympathy and forgiveness towards what we would normally describe as something wrong, shameful and reprehensible. I can't remember another film that made me feel these emotions for a character especially after learning one startling secret after another. This film succeeded in ways that almost movie would likely fail in, it did not come off as generous or light but as remarkably fair as a film or any type of medium can get shedding light on both sides of the spectrum. This is a film that is amazingly thought provoking and will bring out the humanity within all of us and should not be missed.


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