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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.

Director:

Stephen Daldry

Writers:

David Hare (screenplay), Bernhard Schlink (book)
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Popularity
1,029 ( 440)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 25 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Fiennes ... Michael Berg
Jeanette Hain ... Brigitte
David Kross ... Young Michael Berg
Kate Winslet ... Hanna Schmitz
Susanne Lothar ... Carla Berg
Alissa Wilms ... Emily Berg
Florian Bartholomäi ... Thomas Berg
Friederike Becht Friederike Becht ... Angela Berg
Matthias Habich ... Peter Berg
Frieder Venus Frieder Venus ... Doctor
Marie-Anne Fliegel Marie-Anne Fliegel ... Hanna's Neighbour (as Marie Anne Fliegel)
Hendrik Arnst Hendrik Arnst ... Woodyard Worker
Rainer Sellien ... Teacher
Torsten Michaelis Torsten Michaelis ... Sports Master
Moritz Grove Moritz Grove ... Holger
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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:

Unlock the mystery. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Germany]

Country:

USA | Germany

Language:

English | German | Greek | Latin

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Leitor See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$32,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$168,051, 14 December 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$34,194,407

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,019,290
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Before Kate Winslet accepted the role of Hanna, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard and Naomi Watts were considered for the part. See more »

Goofs

The translation for Homer's Odyssey, which Michael reads to Hanna is by Robert Fagles, which was not published until 1996. 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

Featured in The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards (2009) 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

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User Reviews

 
Never underestimate the power of guilt
17 June 2009 | by Smells_Like_CheeseSee all my reviews

Kate Winslet, I absolutely adore her, she's my favorite actress of all time. I still can't believe that she hadn't won an Oscar, her first nomination was in 1995 with Sense and Sensibility. Finally after 14 long years, she finally won the coveted award with the movie The Reader. I finally was able to see this movie the other day and it blew me away, I'm still debating if this really was my favorite Kate Winslet performance, but once again with a strong cast telling a powerful story, The Reader was definitely one of the best films out of 2008. So many holocaust films have been made, it's hard to make another that stands out, but we really haven't had a story where the Nazi guards were on trial. A lot of people debate if this movie is trying too hard to push sympathy on Kate Winslet's character, but my love for this film is to just show that they were human as well, hard to believe, but that our mothers, sisters, friends, whoever could have done something so shameful.

Michael Berg in 1995 Berlin watches an S-Bahn pass by, flashing back to a tram in 1958 Neustadt. A teenage Michael gets off because he is feeling sick and wanders around the streets afterwards, finally pausing in the entryway of a nearby apartment building where he vomits. Hanna Schmitz, the tram conductor, comes in and assists him in returning home. The 36 year old Hanna seduces and begins an affair with the 15 year old boy. During their liaisons, at her apartment, he reads to her literary works he is studying. After a bicycling trip, Hanna learns she is being promoted to a clerical job at the tram company. She abruptly moves without leaving a trace. The adult Michael, a lawyer, at Heidelberg University law school in 1966. As part of a special seminar taught by Professor Rohl, a camp survivor, he observes a trial of several women who were accused of letting 300 Jewish women die in a burning church when they were SS guards on the death march following the 1944 evacuation of Auschwitz. Hanna is one of the defendants. Stunned, Michael visits a former camp himself. The trial divides the seminar, with one student angrily saying there is nothing to be learned from it other than that evil acts occurred and that the older generation of Germans should kill themselves for their failure to act then. But Michael is conflicted on what to do, if to speak out on Hannah's behalf on some of her innocence in the murders or keep quiet.

This is one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen, it was so incredible and just heart breaking. One of the things I respected about the film was the way they handled the awkward "love story" between Michael and Hannah, she's older, he's younger, but it's not even a perverted thing, so strange to say that. I don't know how to put it exactly, but their connection was real and in some sense they both needed each other. If you have the chance to see this movie, I seriously suggest that you take it, the powerful performances really make this film captivating. The story is so heart wrenching and painful, but was told so well. Kate now finally has the award she's deserved for so long and pulls in a terrific performance with The Reader.

10/10


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