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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
1,318 ( 288)
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

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

Anthony Minghella snapped up the film rights before the novel was published with the intention of writing and directing the film himself. David Hare was very keen to adapt the novel but Minghella refused. Eight years later Minghella went to Hare and asked him to write the screenplay as he simply couldn't find the time to do it himself. Ironically, Minghella died prematurely following an operation during the film's production. See more »

Goofs

In a 1976 scene, the Calculator seen on the desk when Michael is reading "The Odyssey" at night is presumably an OEM-Version of the Casio LC-403B. This calculator came on the market around 1985. 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 Videofobia: Star Crash 2 (2013) 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

 
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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