A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
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
Before German reunification, East German flags and coats of arms were displayed all over, in public places and institutions. The flag does not appear in the movie. The coat of arms appears once; an artistic representation, with a noose over it, on the cover of Der Spiegel. See more »
When Dreymann is putting on his tie before his birthday party with the assistance of his neighbor, Frau Meineke, he finishes the job by folding down and adjusting his shirt collar. In the next shot, his shirt collar is "up" once again and needs to be folded back down. See more »
Stand still. Eyes to the floor.
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The US version features a written prologue in English, explaining the historical context of the film. See more »
I saw this film in its North American premiere in a packed theater at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival this past week and was pleased to be part of a standing ovation at the end for the director and star, who were both on hand.
"The Lives of Others," set in East Germany not long before the fall of the Berlin Wall, tells the moving story of a police investigator forced to confront himself and the work he does. In a society poisoned by secrecy, fear and the abuse of power, a number of the movie's characters -- artists, actors, writers -- must look deep inside and decide what they are made of; none more so than the investigator.
This is a movie that took me to a place and time that felt very authentic, for a tale that was very satisfying.
Ulrich Muhe, who plays the investigator, is mesmerizing, and the young director is to be applauded for this, his first full-length film. Some have compared "The Lives of Others" to Coppola's "The Conversation" but the two have completely different story arcs and are only superficially similar.
Both my companion and I felt this was our favorite of the six films we had a chance to see at the festival.
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