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The Lives of Others (2006)

Das Leben der Anderen (original title)
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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Top Rated Movies #58 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 75 wins & 34 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Christa-Maria Sieland
... Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler
... Georg Dreyman
... Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz
Thomas Thieme ... Minister Bruno Hempf
Hans-Uwe Bauer ... Paul Hauser
Volkmar Kleinert ... Albert Jerska
Matthias Brenner ... Karl Wallner
Charly Hübner ... Udo
... Gregor Hessenstein
Bastian Trost ... Häftling 227
Marie Gruber ... Frau Meineke
... Schriftexperte (as Zack Volker Michalowski)
... Einsatzleiter in Uniform
Martin Brambach ... Einsatzleiter Meyer
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Storyline

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's 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

Taglines:

Nothing is private. Nothing is sacred. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 March 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Lives of Others  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

€814,337 (Germany), 26 March 2006, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$213,589, 9 February 2007, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$11,286,112, 13 September 2007

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$77,356,819, 1 February 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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). See more »

Goofs

When Dreyman is playing the sonata that Jerska gave him, he looks only at his fingers, and never at the music that's on the stand, even though he's playing it for the first time. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Guard: [subtitled version] Stand still. Eyes to the floor.
[pause]
Guard: Walk on.
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Connections

Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #22.4 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Albatros
Performed by Karat
Lyrics By Norbert Kaiser
Music By Ullrich Swillms (as Ed Swillms)
Published By Harth Musikverlag / Bergisch Gladbach
(P) 2007 Colosseum Music Entertainment GmbH, Licensed From Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Germany) GmbH
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The globe's best . . .
7 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

"Who knows the secrets of the human heart?" Col in The Crying Game

WhenI saw 2006's Oscar winning Departed, I was satisfied it could be the best picture of the year; then I saw Pan's Labyrinth and thought it imaginatively superior; then I saw Lives of Others, the Oscar choice for best foreign film, and I knew it was the globe's best film of the year, no argument.

Lives of Others is what all movie making should strive to be: interesting characters, thrilling plot, superb acting, and thematic weight. It's set in East Berlin, 1984, five years before the Wall's fall and Gorbachev's "glasnost" and still felling the tremors of Nazism, in this case the Stasi, a government agency similar to the SS. Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muehe), a Stasi teacher and coldly efficient information gatherer, surreptitiously watches playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck) to get compromising details that would damn Dreyman and open the romantic way for the culture minister, Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme). Oddly for an artist, Dreyman is loyal to socialism, so it is through Sieland that the information must come.

The dramatic hub of this absorbing intrigue is the growing affection Wiesler gains for the actress and coincidentally the underground freedom movement, mostly as it is represented by artists and their friends. While his efficiency is amply evident in his cool detachment, similar to that of Rafe Fiennes in Schindler's List and Serg Lopez in Pan's Labyrinth, his humanity seeps out at the edges as he becomes vicariously involved in the artists' lives. First-time director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck misses not a beat in slowly revealing the hearts of all his principals while he creates a plot remarkably interesting for a character-driven piece.

Few films could mine the rich conflict between the totalitarian state and artists who yearn for freedom of expression, between the loyalties of friends and lovers and the crushing exigency of survival. Lives of Others shows how difficult it is to watch others' lives unfold and not be drawn to their passion. It's rough out there: No other film of 2006 showed that cliché better. Here's looking at you, best film of the year.


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