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The Lives of Others
Year:
2006
Country:
Germany
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Martina Gedeck as Christa-Maria Sieland
Ulrich Mühe as Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler
Sebastian Koch as Georg Dreyman
Ulrich Tukur as Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz
Thomas Thieme as Minister Bruno Hempf
Hans-Uwe Bauer as Paul Hauser
Volkmar Kleinert as Albert Jerska
Matthias Brenner as Karl Wallner
Herbert Knaup as Gregor Hessenstein
Bastian Trost as Häftling 227
Marie Gruber as Frau Meineke
Volker Michalowski as Schriftexperte (as Zack Volker Michalowski)
Werner Daehn as Einsatzleiter in Uniform
Storyline: In the early 1980s, Georg Dreyman (a successful dramatist) and his longtime companion Christa-Maria Sieland (a popular actress), were huge intellectual stars in (former) East Germany, although they secretly don't always toe the party line. One day, the Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple, but their life fascinates him more and more.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
HQ DVD-rip 720x432 px 1853 Mb 1963 Kbps mp4 Download
iPhone 640x270 px 1539 Mb h264 1562 Kbps mp4 Download
Reviews
A great movie
First of all, I must say that the action of the movie is hard to understand for those who didn't live in the former communist countries from eastern Europe. As one who live in such a country, I think this movie is a masterpiece and Ulrich Muhe made a brilliant role, and maybe he's the man who should win the Oscar this year. In a world full of suspicion and secret services entering every people's life, the STASI officer risks his job for a noble cause, which the communists hated at that time - THE CULTURE. A really amazing production and a page of history "written" with genius by the crew of this film. Congratulations !
2007-01-26
Amazing movie
Set on the 1980s and during the Cold War, "Das Leben der Anderen" tells the story of the world created by the Stasi (the internal army created by the Socialist Party) and the citizens of the GDR living in a world of repression.

The official state police, Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhn), is a specialist in interrogation and is assigned the espionage case of a playwright named Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch).

It is for this reason (being a playwright) that he is placed under surveillance. As the investigation progresses, he unknowingly becomes aware of its own existence and limited empathy for those who follow him, taking precedence over their obedience and loyalty to the Stasi - so much so that he begins to fudge documents and lying about the events in the life of Dreyman.

"Das Leben der Anderen" is a low budget ever for a German film but it is exceptionally written capturing the essence of people's feelings at the time.

The photography is wonderful and captures a dark and drab East Germany, with its dull lighting and soft colors, perfectly illustrated the dismay of its citizens. The performances throughout the film are excellent, the best performance however for me is Ulrich Muhn. the film is a great piece of art and entertainment that should be seen by any movie lover.

My Rating - 9/10

(Original Review written May 25, 2013)
2014-09-08
A Masterwork Of Pristine Quality That Deserves A Broader Audience!
Winner of Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, The Lives of Others has a very serene ambiance when compared to other entries in the spy genre which are usually filled with chases, action or violence for this German drama tries to paint an authentic portrait of life in East Germany and is a silent observation of human nature.

Set in 1980s East Germany, the story of The Lives of Others (also known as Das Leben der Anderen) focuses on the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi; the secret police, and concerns an agent who's tasked to conduct a surveillance on a writer & his lover, but over the course of his duty ends up becoming too infatuated with their lives.

Written & directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others is crafted in an incredibly calm n composed manner, and presents the filmmaker in firm grip of the story he attempts to bring to life on the film canvas, which sounds even more astonishing when noted that it is his directional debut. And the proper execution of other aspects only work out in its favour.

Set pieces & locations do evoke an authentic-looking atmosphere of East Germany. The camera-work is carefully employed as the movements are static for the most part, use of lighting & colour tones is skilfully done, and the drama is captured in fine detail. Editing unfolds its 137 minutes of runtime at a very relaxed pace, and the performances by its entire cast is simply outstanding.

On an overall scale, The Lives of Others is an engaging drama that manages to create & sustain its tension amazingly well, gets better as the plot progresses, and concludes its tale in a very satisfying manner. The script is definitely its biggest strength and rest of the stuff is wonderfully handled too but its glacial pace & quietness did bother me at times. Not as rewarding as I expected it to be but definitely a work of pristine quality that deserves a broader audience.
2015-08-09
Can you dance as if there's no-one watching?
Maybe you know the saying, "Dance as if no-one were watching, sing as if no-one were listening"? I wonder why we say that? Is there something magical about privacy? Something that lets the spirit free? Our story starts before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Stasi, East Germany's Secret Police, has refined its way of dealing with artists. No violence. Psychology. Persuasion. Surveillance. The lives of others are not their own. Most artists give up. Many commit suicide. Your best friend. Your lover. Georg Dreyman is lucky. He survives.

The Lives of Others spans seven years - from 1984 to 1991. The first hour sets the scene so we are completely immersed in Communist Germany. Then Dreyman and his partner confront the fact that their lives are being compromised. The emotional intensity is in gut-wrenching contrast to the bland story so far. Finally, as the Stasi surveillance kicks in, they wonder if they can survive - or even if they want to.

One of the film's strengths and weaknesses is that the characters are so believable. Dreyman is a sophisticated intellectual, a successful playwright. His partner, Christa-Maria, is an acclaimed actress. Then there's Stasi agent Gerd Wiesler, a heart-felt supporter of the communism, who is assigned to spy on them. Wiesler has a crisis of conscience and decides not to prosecute Dreyman. The Lives of Others has created debate and furore in Germany. Firstly, because the ex-Stasi now try to portray the regime as none too harmful. Secondly, because the facts show that, with the system of double-checks that were in place, no such character as Wiesler existed or could have existed. The film's director says it is about the ability of human beings to do the right thing, no matter how far they have gone down the wrong path. It seems like a good story (as long as we don't re-write history in the process).

As I came out of a packed multiplex auditorium, I marvelled. People turning out in such numbers to see a subtitled movie. And so they should. But, its Oscar win (Best Foreign Language) apart, The Lives of Others is particularly poignant to British audiences. A poll published at the end of 2006 indicated almost 80% of us agree that Britain has become a 'surveillance society'.

This is why The Lives of Others strikes such a chord. Thousands of new offences, limitations on freedom of assembly, on privacy, freedom of movement, the right to silence, and freedom of speech. Privacy International ranks the UK ahead of the US, Europe and most developing countries, as a 'world worst offender' for surveillance, and as 'an endemic surveillance society' (in the same category as Russia and China). We are by far the most-watched nation on earth, with a CCTV camera for every 14 people. Apart from such corrosive effects of surveillance (notably, in our film, on artists), new technology (including DNA and tracking of non-suspects) raises nightmarish possibilities of abuse. When disaster hits Dreyman's life, it is because a high-up official is abusing the system. Dreyman and Christa-Maria's lives are shattered, and he becomes determined to help expose the disease in their society.

As I catch the bus home from the cinema (watched by more CCTV), I read a newspaper report of an Aberdeen University study finding tough government policies aimed at curbing Islamic radicalism are having the opposite effect. Since 9/11, Britain has eroded the principles it claims to be defending, and people fear (with some justification) that the Government's 'bottom-up accountability' is a blueprint for a 21st century version of a police state. A vicious circle? The Stasi had many more times the secret police that Nazi Germany had - but under a politer system. And modern technology even does away with the need for so many human operatives. The Lives of Others does not feature Gestapo tactics (and the Gestapo only had 30,000 secret police, against the Stasi's 200,000). This is the 1980s, and the Stasi are modern-looking officials, not hit-men. Most of them have been convinced that their work is for the public good.

Dreyman is criticised for minor offences - possessing Western newspapers. It gives them a polite excuse to keep tabs. One perhaps thinks of the UK DNA database (the world's largest) that samples those who have committed very minor offences - or no offence at all. The official reason for diversifying surveillance on Dreyman is, "lack of suspicious acts." Our fictitious 'good man' in this multifaceted masterwork, (and to whom Dreyman eventually dedicates a novel) is in some aspects played by Ulrich Muhe. In a strange irony, Muhe has examined his own Stasi files - from the days when he was an actor in East Germany. He found his former wife had informed on him through the six years of their marriage. For Muhe, the Brechtian self-awareness that is referenced (but never directly used) in the film gives it a meaning beyond mere entertainment. The movie's style is mainstream - as if 'no-one was watching'. We just identify with what is happening on screen. But then we think about our own lives. Whether it is "the grey men who ensure safety in our land" or the emotional ties, and how far would you go to protect a loved one, or how far someone could go to mess with your head.

Watch and listen carefully: the Lives of Others is a film that can cut deep.
2007-04-13
The hit at Telluride
This was my favorite film at Telluride. Everyone with whom I talked had the same feeling. It generated the most "buzz." I hope it has a wide audience in the US. The acting by those who experienced the Stasi was moving and believable. Ulrich Muhe as the Stasi Officer was brilliant. Most of us cried during the final scene. Florian Henckel-Donnersmarck's direction with its twists and turns kept the audience glued to the screen. Because of the film's popularity, it was scheduled again for another showing at the festival. Both Muhe and Henckel-Donnersmarck were present and were stopped where ever they went during the festival. I recommend this film and gave it a 10.
2006-09-05
An amazing film since the director had never directed another full-length film before this!
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck directed this film and it's amazing that he'd never directed a full-length movie before this! And, it went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film and now is the 50th highest rated film on IMDb!

The film is set mostly in East Germany in 1984. The film is about the Stasi (German secret police) and their investigation of a playwright. It is interesting because through the course of their investigation, the man in charge starts to relate to the folks he's listening to and eventually abandons his determination to work for the regime. In fact, over time he slowly begins to cover up much of the writer's anti-government activities and tries very hard to save the guy.

There is much more to the movie and it it hadn't been reviewed so many times already, I would give a much more detailed review. Suffice to say that the film has terrific acting, nice direction and a wonderful script. Well worth seeing.
2015-03-14
Nests
Regular readers of my comments know I go on and on about noir and folding. When I see these narrative techniques used, I often remark that the technique is wasted, because the film has no heft once it has charmed us into investing in it.

Not so here. The thing we get from this is simple, the value of passion in art. We get it viscerally and it matters. The basic device is as usual, commitment to art as a commitment to a lover. We also get the common technique of mapping personal challenge into political challenge because you can "show" it.

The folding here is complex. Our watcher in the story is literally a watcher. We are getting a film written by the filmmaker that features a play and ultimately a book by the main character. The watcher and writer have other watchers, and indeed the woman has other attention concerning performance. We have writing or performing (in life, in sex, piano, play...) at every fold. Its very tight in its construction and effective at what it sets out to do.

Quite apart from that, its timeliness in the US is apt. The subtitles I saw translated the spies as "National Security Agency," which as every American now knows performs very similar surveillance on its citizens, also without controls, and also for political purpose. So it chills.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
2008-06-09
Best film I have seen...perhaps ever!
This is an incredible film. I had heard nothing about it until a friend suggested we take a look. I entered the cinema without a clue what it was about and whether it was going to be any good. It turned out to be stupendously good. The characters were brilliantly wholesome and the story was lacking in nothing.

The film is set in the 1980's in Germany and details the lives of those living under the regime in East Germany, focusing on some of the more "controversial" types in society; namely artists, play writes and actors. The relationships really tug at your heart and the turn of events is entirely unexpected.

I cannot believe that there is so little written about it but suggest that you see it now.
2007-02-04
Sonata for a Good Man indeed!
This is one of the best films I've seen recently. I won't add a summary; many have done a better job of this than I could. However, what I do want to add is that what makes this such a great film is not simply that it is a political film. If you enjoy a surprising love story, subtle and realistic character development, and an outstanding film score, see this film. You might learn something about East Germany in the process, but that's not the entire point of the film. At its heart, this is a film about people and its themes transcend the time period.

************SPOILER ALERT********One of my favorite parts of the film is the way that Wiesler, the Stasi agent, reveals very slowly how he is affected by his observation of "Lazlo" and "CMS." He becomes more and more involved in their love affair, which emphasizes his own lonely life. Clumsy attempts at human closeness are made: with a prostitute, then with a child, until he finally begins to contact the subjects themselves. At first this contact is electronic, by rigging a doorbell buzzer to ring at a crucial point. He then talks directly with Christa, showing complete understanding of her needs, while also understanding exactly how far he can go. Where he goes next is for you to see, but he sacrifices his own career to become a "good man." *****************END OF SPOILER***********************
2007-12-09
Best film in years
After seeing the outstanding Pan's Labyrinth, I could not understand how anything could beat it to the Oscar for Best Film, let alone the accolade of Best Foreign Film. That was until I saw The Lives of Others.

Putting it simply, this is the best film released in years. The framework of the story surrounds a Stasi officer who is assigned to monitor a writer and his actress girlfriend considered loyal to East German regime. That is all I am prepared to reveal because this film operates on so many levels that I wouldn't know where to begin. On the surface this can be enjoyed as a taut drama but essentially it is a study of the human condition and the capacity for compassion and humanity exists in even the most inhumane people. All of this is shot against the backdrop of the greys and browns of communist East Germany.

As a film it is virtually flawless. The three central performances are nothing short of electric, with particularly Ulrich Muhe giving one of the greatest leading man performances since Al Pacino in The Godfather. None of this would be possible without a brilliant script and exemplary direction, that brings the characters to life extracting the best out of the actors. The result is no words are wasted, and every scene is relevant and expertly conceived. This manages to explore deep issues without being turgid, is moving without being draining and remains gripping and entertaining without being superficial.

In summary, this is film-making at its finest. It is the sort of movie that you'll go down on bended knee and pay homage to the inventor of cinema, because it is films like this that cinema was created for. You'll forgive a year of tedious sequels and cash cows, for the one day that films like this get released.

10 out of 10 is too modest.
2007-04-13
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