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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
1,656 ( 194)
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 ... 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:

Behind the mystery lies a truth that will make you question everything you know. 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:

Germany | USA

Language:

English | German | Greek | Latin

Release Date:

30 January 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Reader 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

Gross USA:

$34,194,407

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$108,901,967
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

When selling the rights to his novel, Bernhard Schlink insisted that the film be shot in English. See more »

Goofs

When Michael is making the tapes, we see a notebook where he lists his recordings between 4 August 77 and 10 October 77. One of the entries is: Heinrich Böll, Women in a River Landscape. This novel was first published in 1985, so Michael couldn't have possibly read it in 1977. (Someone probably confused this title with another novel of Böll's, "Group Portrait With Lady", about the life of a woman born in 1922, which came out in 1970 and was very well received and popular at the time.) 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 At the Movies: 25 Years of Margaret & David (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Pueri Hebraeorum
Written by Giovanni Palestrina (as Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)
Performed by The Philharmonischer Kinderchor Dresden
Conducted by Professor Jürgen Becker
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Winslet Impressive In This Two-Movies-In-One Story
3 May 2009 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Kate Winslet is just outstanding in this very interesting film that is almost two stories-in-one. The first part is a sexual story of an older woman having affairs with a teenage boy and the second part is her war crimes tale and what happens afterward. The first is a somewhat happy jaunt of a short story and the second is a very serious and depressing story. That's where Winslet really shines. Obviously, she's developed into an an outstanding actress.

The second part is what most people, I assume, will remember about this film. Can "Hanna Schmitz," a Nazi employee (so to speak), who was part of concentration camps, be a sympathetic character? To me, that's what it looked like that's the question the story was asking. The answer may have come in the final minutes of the movie when her ex-lover "Michael Berg," now grown up and played by Ralph Fiennes, confronts a survivor of the camp. That, too, was very intense and interesting scene. Lena Olin is riveting as "Rose/Illana Mather."

"The Reader" was full of quiet, but intense scenes. This is a very thought-provoking film, especially for one that doesn't start off that way but look almost like some soft-porn flick to get our attention. It is anything but that.

For Germans, this film must bring out many emotions and thoughts. Guilt and forgiveness are just two of the issues that are dealt with in this unique film. "Hanna Schmitz" turns out to be an incredibly simple-yet-complex person, unlike any I've encountered on film in a long time. You see her in all kinds of light, both good and bad.

Kudos, too, to David Kross' acting as the young Michael Berg. It must be strange for someone his age (barely turned 18) to do the scenes he did with 30-something Winslet.

Overall, a very different and excellent film that stays with you and makes you ponder its main characters.


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