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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
1,764 ( 334)
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:

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

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

When Michael narrates: "I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I'll love. Danger will only increase my love, it will sharpen it, it will give it spice.[...]" he is quoting from "Intrigue and Love" by 18th Century German poet and playwright Friedrich Schiller. See more »

Goofs

During the cycling holiday, when arriving at the church, Hanna gets off her bike on the right hand side of the bike and walks towards the church. When she parks the bike against the wall in the next shot she is standing on the left of the bike. 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 »


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

 
A victim's guilt
4 January 2009 | by Michael FargoSee all my reviews

The film is a series of profound moral dilemmas—while contrived by the author, they are fair questions—that resonate deeply in the 21st Century: The role of guilt in victims, perpetrators, individuals and collectively, as well as justice, forgiveness, redemption, shame and, of course, literacy and its role in Western thought.

All this is a pretty heady mix for a film, but Stephen Daldry (as with "The Hours" ) makes literary conceit play very naturally here. David Hare's screenplay and the remarkable cinematography of the always remarkable Roger Deakins together with a sensitive score by Nico Muhly, this is indeed rarefied film-making.

But the actors are what drag the audience into this story. David Kross is amazing as the young Michael who has to play a range of virginal innocent to wizened and bitter. It's the key role in the film, and we're all lucky he was found to play this role. And the ever confounding Kate Winslet. What an amazing career for this young actress! Running through a list of her credits, she has some of the best performances of the last decade: "Holy Smoke," "Eternal Sunshine…," "Iris," "Finding Neverland," "Little Children." But here she does something very different. Playing what amounts to a monster, we see that they too are human. Not many actresses could bring this off, but it may be her greatest accomplishment to date.

Ralph Fiennes brings a continuity to the work David Kross begins, and there's a brief appearance by Lena Olin who commands the dignity the role deserves.

I'm puzzled at the lukewarm reception to this film. I almost missed seeing it. And it turned out to be one of my favorite and the most heart-rending films of the year. All involved should be very proud.


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