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-crim... Read allPost-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.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.
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.
- Jun 17, 2009