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The Lives of Others
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
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
Inspiring take on the reality of the GDR history
Quite possibly the best film released in the 2000s, Von Donnersmark masterpiece regarding the influence and the attraction of an individual towards another's creates an image which was very well interpreted to the masterclass cinematography and musical accompaniment of Hagen Bogdanski and Stéphane Moucha, respectively. Set in the fascist era of Germany, Das Leben Der Anderen depicts a surveyor's (Wieser) interaction with a seemingly loyal writer (Dreyman) through suspicions from the Minister. The wonderful acting from the leads namely: Ulrich Muhe and Sebastian Koch along with the supporting cast delivers this rather inspiring film contrary to the the film's opening environment. This is my first time seeing the film and though it is already 4 years since it was released, it still as fresh and original as any film released recently.
Who's Watching the Watchmen
I tend to avoid subtitles in films these days. I always end up missing something and having to rewind, and of course you end up with a somewhat broken visual experience. I made an exception for this film though as I'd read somewhere that it was worth a watch.

I have to say, as a layman, I find it very tough to fault this film. I'm generally wary of hype but it's totally justified in this case. So much care has gone into the writing, stylisation, visuals, casting, acting, direction, editing, sound. I think they really wanted to tell this story right. And they succeeded.

Set in East Germany in the mid 1980s, you get a fly-on-the-wall look at how the Stasi(secret police) operated, and the ubiquitous menace it sowed into people's every day lives. Moreover you get an insight into the precarious plight of the artist living under such a regime, i.e. either he sells out and produces safe art that doesn't challenge those in power, or is true to himself but risks surveillance, interrogation, an end to his career or worse.

The central story is of a playwright who is in good standing with the government at the beginning of the film but falls foul of a corrupt government minister who takes a shine to his girlfriend. Ordering the Stasi to conduct full surveillance on the playwright's home, the minister then brutally pursues the girlfriend. The rest of the film follows the interplay between the watcher(a particularly expedient Stasi officer), his superior, the watchees, and the government minister.

Superbly well-acted all round. Just a well-rounded piece of work. So easy to watch. It really transports you to a different place and time. You get a feel for the spartan nature of that society, the apparent havens of normality within, but of course all ultimately at the mercy of the powers that be.

A beautifully crafted study of how fear and consequence influence art, the ugliness of corruption in a society where people have no power, and how divisions of good and evil aren't nearly as black and white as we would like to believe.
A stunning directorial debut which deserves to be seen everywhere
Because this movie deals with recent German history, some German comments about it get sidetracked into minute historical discussions. Forget them; Das Leben der Anderen is an outstanding movie that should be seen everywhere.

The former East Germany, a relatively small country of 16 million people, was controlled by the most sophisticated, cunning, and thorough secret police the world has ever seen, the East German Ministerium für Staatsicherheit, or "Stasi." The Stasi had about 90,000 employees -- a staggering number for such a small population -- but even more importantly, recruited a network of hundreds of thousands of "unofficial employees," who submitted secret reports on their co-workers, bosses, friends, neighbors, and even family members. Some did so voluntarily, but many were bribed or blackmailed into collaboration.

Das Leben der Anderen, ("The Life of Others") German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut, builds this painful legacy into a fascinating, moving film. In its moral seriousness, artistic refinement, and depth, Das Leben der Anderen simply towers over other recent German movies, and urgently deserves a wide international release. The fulcrum of the movie (but probably not its most important character) is Georg Dreyman, an up-and-coming East German playwright in his late 30s. Played by the square-jawed Sebastian Koch, Dreyman is an (apparently) convinced socialist who's made his peace with the regime. His plays are either ideologically neutral or acceptable, and he's even received State honors.

Although he is a collaborator, he is also a Mensch. He uses his ideological "cleanliness" to intervene on behalf of dissidents such as his journalist friend Paul Hauser (Hans-Uwe Bauer). These unfortunates must contend with every humiliation a totalitarian state can invent: their apartments are bugged, friends and family are recruited to inform on them, and chances to publish or perform can be extinguished by one stray comment from a Central Committee member. The most recalcitrant can be kicked out of the country and stripped of their citizenship, like the singer songwriter Wolf Biermann.

Dreyman lives in a shabby-genteel, book-filled apartment with his girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), a renowned actress who often appears in his plays. At the beginning of the movie, Dreyman himself comes under the regime's suspicion, for reasons that become clear only later. The fearful machinery of the Stasi rumbles to life: his movements are recorded, and his apartment bugged. The Stasi had bugging down to a science: a team of meticulously-trained agents swoop into your apartment when you're not there, install miniscule, undetectable listening devices in every single room -- including the bathroom -- and vanish in less than an hour, leaving no trace. Agents set up an secret electronic command post nearby, keeping a written record of every joke, argument, or lovemaking session.

The "operative process" against Dreyman is overseen by Stasi captain Gerd Wiesler, played by Ulrich Mühe, an actor from the former East who was himself once in the Stasi's cross-hairs. Captain Wiesler starts the film as a colorless, icy, tight-lipped professional who shows no mercy in fighting the "enemies of socialism": if he needs to interrogate a suspect for 10 hours without sleep to get a confession, he will do so -- and then place the seat-cover the suspect sat on in a vacuum jar in case the miscreant should later need to be tracked by bloodhounds. At night, Captain Wiesler returns to his tiny apartment in an grubby, anonymous high-rise. He settles himself among his inexpressibly drab furniture, eats a meal squeezed out of a plastic tube while watching reports about agricultural production, and then goes to bed alone.

As Captain Wiesler listens to Dreyman and his girlfriend he begins to like them, or perhaps envy the richness and depth of their lives in comparison with his own. Perhaps he also begins to wonder why a stranger should have the right to become privy to Dreyman's most intimate secrets: his occasional impotence, his girlfriend's infidelities, his artistic crises. At the same time, though, Wiesler is under pressure: a Central Committee official has made it clear to Wiesler and his toadying supervisor Lieutenant Colonel Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur), that Dreyman has to go down.

I won't discuss more plot details, as there are unexpected twists. Each of the main characters is drawn deeper into the conflict between Dreyman and the State, and each is torqued by loyalty conflicts that intensify as the pressure increases. The cast is outstanding. Sebastian Koch finds the right combination of poetic detachment and watchful sophistication for Dreyman. Martina Gedeck, as his girlfriend, has the most challenging role, since she's buffeted from all sides: by her suspicious partner, by Stasi agents trying to turn her, and by a lecherous Culture Minister. Ulrich Mühe plays the Stasi agent's transformation with reserve, only hinting at the stages in his character's secret, but decisive, change of heart.

Director von Donnersmarck, a blue-blooded West German, has re-created the gray, drained look of the former East, and the nature of Stasi intimidation, with a fidelity that has earned the praise of East Germans. His pacing is relaxed, but doesn't drag; although there are a few longueurs, most scenes unfold at just the right pace, and there are several great set-pieces. One is a bone-rattling episode in the Stasi canteen in which a young recruit is caught telling a joke about East German premier Erich Honecker. Another is the penultimate scene, a masterstroke in which Dreyman gains access to his massive Stasi file, while reading it, suddenly understands episodes of his own life which had never made sense to him before. The ending is perfectly judged; bittersweet and moving without swelling strings or teary confessions.

Das Leben der Anderen is an outstanding movie, probably a great one. If it's not picked up for international distribution, it will be a bitter loss for thousands of potential moviegoers in other countries.
Excellent Film
I won't go into the plot.The film concerns East Germany during the eighties at it's most oppressive.The film is engrossing and so absorbing that I forgot I was reading subtitles all through it.Well worth the evening. The Lives of Others is what film is supposed to do which is to make one think about one's life and the society one is living in.

I should say that the promotional poster is very misleading and I fear it will hurt this outstanding film.Those nude couples is absolutely not what this film is about.This is not some film about a group of self-absorbed adults jumping in and out of beds to put some excitement into their dull lives.This is a political film involving adults who are trying to live life freely in a very oppressive environment.The publicists should really re-think their promotional campaign.
Slow Moving But An Excellent Drama About Human Emotion
I enjoyed this film quite a bit. The plot and script were superb and the acting impeccable. All characters did exactly what the director wanted - you hated some and loved others. Their feeling of helplessness was put on the screen very well and the bleached, stale cinematography was well noted.

This is a film about human emotion during a time when the government wishes to extinguish it. To see how each character is moved and changed by their bleak surroundings was marvelous.

I would recommend this film highly - just be warned that it is slow moving with not many exciting parts. There are several tense and gripping scenes however, and the ending is truly heart felt.
A masterpiece of story telling
Some really average films get held up as classics nowadays - but here we have a genuine classic.

Everything works together and supports the story, no over indulgent 'David Leanesque' camera shots; no over-the-top performances from any of the actors. Okay, maybe a little sentimental in parts, but by then you are completely sucked in by the performances and the story so it doesn't matter.

I implore all film lovers, who haven't seen this movie to do so immediately and if you don't think it is one of the best films ever made - to quote Ron Burgundy: 'I will fight you and that's no lie!'
Great story and screenplay with less of the usual scene montages
The story unravels nicely although a bit too slow for my taste. Yet I really like how the opening exposes the meticulous practice of the Stasi. The introduction of the characters Dreyman and Sieland is also nice, especially if, like me, you watch the movie without any prior knowledge toward this movie. The transition that Wiesler undergoes during the movie is portrayed nicely. This is even better because the movie uses less scene montages. The depiction of Grubitz's dangerous character through bits and pieces scattered along this movie is also nice. I like how Ulrich Muhe played the calm yet meticulous and then the affected version of Wiesler. Martina Gedeck also shows a good performance and went total on this movie. Sebastian Koch does well in completing this movie with his performance of quite an undecided character.
Sonata for a Good Man
Artists watching this will shudder at the callousness of politicians and at how little they mean to government, unless the all-mighty entity decides they need something from you. What could that be? Your loyalty, your voice, or possibly your girlfriend or to shut your voice down when they care to. When that has been decided, no action is too grotesque. NSA hating liberals will simply see this as a universal film to justify their cause against humanity. I used to say that as long as I have nothing to hide, why should I care? We all have our agendas, apolar from Gods' will. What a sad existence our characters found themselves in as East Germany was artistic quicksand. This touching film allows us inside each persons mentality from disgusting politician to bully spy to idealistic writer to actress subservient to her desire to perform to the career saving autocrat who carried out the "business" at hand. Each is powerful but none are in true "concert". This is why to break the stalemate created by selfish leadership, it all begins with one good man.
A German movie you will never forget
This is a very intense German triller. Exceptionally well made, not what I expected and as the movie progressed you fine yourself re-evaluating the characters.. Nothing negative to write about this movie, a simply script well acted. I only wish more movies were made like this, for 2 million dollars they made a masterpiece of cinema. Watch it. Florian Henckel-Donnersmarck's direction with its twists and turns kept the audience glued to the screen. Because of the film's popularity,And even though the movie has very tough moments it is all so well done and presented with such a good taste that in the end you feel some sort of relieved.
The Lives of Others
Is it possible for a man to be good if he's part of a bad system? This is just one of the many questions raised by the 2006 Oscar Winner for best foreign language film. Set In 1984 East Berlin, Gerd Wiesler is an agent of the Stasi. A good one. So good he conducts lectures on interrogation techniques of enemies of the state. He's tasked with an assignment to monitor Georg Dreyman, an influential playwright with on the surface seems a poster-child of the GDR.

What unfolds is a thoughtful and thought-provoking drama. Wiesler observes not only his target but the nature of the system he works for. His observation, near silent most of the time, reveals not only the complexities of Dreyman's personal life and political beliefs but also the corruption of a system he holds steadfastly to be perfect. It's a beautifully profound human drama that asks suitably profound questions. Can bad acts be legitimised if the perpetrator believes them to be inherently good? Can art be true without the freedom of expression? What are the limits of loyalty? The performances are uniformly excellent. Ulrich Mühe shines as the torn Stasi officer. Playing him as a blank canvas reflecting the world around him yet wrestling with his own loneliness. While Martina Gedeck is excellent as the tragic and trapped actress whose relationship with Dreyman is stretched to breaking point.

The film is subtle, observant and never feels the need to over-state it's key argument about the corruptive and corrosive effect of the Stasi on the GDR. Yet, the historical and political trappings are a framework to a touching human drama that works on almost all levels. Outstanding.
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