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Year:
2006
Country:
Germany
Genre:
Drama, Thriller
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

 

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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
The Lives of Others 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
Powerful and Brilliant
This movie is a brilliant piece of work. A powerful original screenplay, that is well acted and directed. Provides a bleak window into the DDR and how the government controlled the lives of their artists and those that supported them.

Frankly, I went to see this movie because it won an Oscar. As foreign film Oscar winners generally tend to be a good show. This was beyond expectations.

Ulrich Mühe puts on a compelling performance as a state security police agent. Sebastian Koch is equally impressive.

I highly recommend you make your way out to the film festival theater that is showing this movie. You will be amazed.
2007-03-16
Undoubtedly, deserved an Oscar
This film is in my favorite five foreign films list. I was not very much familiar with the background of East Germany. I was shocked to see under what enormous pressure a lot of East Germans had to live. In this film, Georg Dreyman is a dramatist and Christa-Maria Sieland is an actress and his girlfriend. As East German politicians were influenced by Russians, it was considered almost criminal to be associated with West German. And, Georg and Christa and their friends are associated with West side. The Minister of Culture becomes interested in Christa, so the secret service agent Wiesler is instructed to observe and sound out the couple.

And from here the story becomes complicated. The minister of culture just want to sexually exploit Christa, and on one night he succeeds in doing that, he rapes her. Georg understands that she is being followed by people of Minister. Wiesler, a Secret service agent empathizes with both of them and tries to help them but it is very difficult for Wiesler too, to help them.

How, Wiesler sees Georg is a good person and he thinks whatever is done to him is bad. So, he tries to help him. The acting done by everybody is top notch. I have seen Ulrich Mühe before and knew he is a fine actor. Sebastian Koch (Gerog)and Martina Gedeck (Christa)were new to me. I was very impressed with how Sebastian acted. He did a splendid job. And, what can I say about Martina Gedeck, she is drop dead gorgeous even at the age of 45 in this film.

But, once again the best performance is delivered by Ulrich Mühe. His expressions are exceptional in this film. I bumped onto this film when I was searching for best films ever made list on IMDb. I'm glad that I had the chance to view this film. I recommend this film to almost everybody irrespective of political knowledge and background of German partition and later their reunification. This is one of those films which are not be missed.
2013-03-07
Terrific screenplay and solid performances for a powerfully gripping drama
It is the second time I have seen this movie. When I first saw it I remember feeling upset by the idea that just a little more than 20 years ago, in the heart of a civilized and enlightened Europe, there dominated such cultural repression and such terroristic means of questioning. Not that history of the former DDR was unknown to me, but probably because undeveloped at school, or probably because a little disregarded also by cinematography, it was rather upsetting. On a second watching, having assimilated the strong impact of the first one, I could better analyze the quality of the movie from a cinematographic point of view, and really appreciate it. It has a solid structure which makes every shot perfectly match with the whole, and contributes to an overall clear, lucid and perfectly built drama. The story proceeds with a quick pace, each scene is the preparation for the next one, everything is under control and follows a well marked and gripping path. The cast is simply outstanding: the actress playing Christa Maria is truly convincing in showing her deep inner laceration between her love for the stage and her love for Georg, the handsome and attractive dramatist, who knows where the right side lies, but finds it hard to assert it explicitly. But who leaves the most emotionally powerful mark is Ulrich Muhe interpreting Wiesler: he stirs thought and emotion, he is so dramatically contained, as his character requires, but, in a single hint at a smile (whe he reads Brecht's poems), conveys such a desperate yearning for true life, I think an Oscar deserving interpretation. In the end, a movie I would absolutely advise: it is intelligently thought-provoking, intellectually honest, and solidly built: a high-level piece of cinema. Really worth seeing.
2009-12-05
not such a bad film, after all
so I finally got to see the film everyone has been talking about. I have also seen the talk show in which the director gets into an argument with East-German actor Henry Hübchen. I must admit the director comes across as arrogant bordering on annoying. He is obviously a wunderkind or something but he is actually such a smart-ass that I can't imagine a character less likable. Watching his discussion with Hübchen made me want to boycott the film (even though I adore the actors in it, Martina Gedeck and Ulrich Mühe)

I am glad I didn't. It may not be historically accurate. I am from East Germany but I am too young to know. Yet, most people say the GDR as portrayed in the film was not the GDR of the 1980s but rather the (Stalinist) GDR of the 1950s. In the 1980s, most actors, singers, the famous people were able to extort the GDR government as they could just go west and embarrass the officials. If the writer/actress couple were really as famous as the film suggests, in 1984, the GDR officials would have given them anything they wanted. (the pivotal point was 1976 when dissident Wolf Biermann was denaturalized)

In that respect, I understand Hübchen's criticism. He said he lived in the period and doesn't agree with the way it was portrayed. He fears that the will now stand testimony to the era and people may well think that this is the way it was. His grandson asked him why he didn't do anything about it, how he could live in a system like this etc. I suppose he is afraid Donnersmark steals his biography, in a way.

However, it is still a work of fiction and people who watch a film should know. It is a good film, if overly dramatic, a little obvious, and Hollywood-IA. It has some great moments, actually. Mühe is fantastic as the man in grey.

So, it's definitely worth checking out. I have a feeling it may get more appreciation abroad than in Germany. It was obviously produced with the foreign (esp American) audiences in mind. And I think it may translate pretty well into foreign territories as it gets enthusiastic notices from critics abroad.

My favourite German film this year is still Sommer vorm Balkon, yet it appears foreigners don't get the subtle and sweet Berlin humour.
2006-08-09
A film which will remain for decades in our minds..
A film which must obligatory be seen by anyone who claims he adores cinema. It's a masterpiece. It ends and you need at least a minute of time to realize what you have just seen! One of the five best foreign language film I ever watched. It merits of any praise. It is fully emotional and didactic in the same time. Sebastian Koch is exceptional in his role. I just don't have words for Ulrich Mühe, an excellent performance. Do not think that I exaggerate.. Just pay a visit to your nearest theater and find yourselves trapped in directing that masterly created by Florian Henckel. It is also a non-Hollywood production which proves once more that it isn't needed millions of dollars to create an outstanding by all means film.

I am sure you will enjoy it..
2013-11-01
Another great German movie
Generally, I thought this was a great movie, very well done, very suspenseful. The ending was a great bit of closure - a nice touch where Georg could let Wiesler know that he knew what Wiesler had done for him. I would have liked Georg and Wiesler to have a conversation, but maybe that would have been too much of a Hollywood ending.

My main negative about the movie is that I didn't understand why Wiesler was so affected by the lives of Georg and Christa-Maria. Clearly his life was empty, but he was an experienced agent and had spied on many people, which probably included artists. I didn't see why he would feel such sympathy for these two to the point of putting himself at risk. But if you just take his feelings and reasons for what they are, the film works very well.

I saw von Donnersmarck interviewed (in English) and was surprised at his American accent - evidently he lived in New York for part of his childhood. I recently saw "Downfall" (Untergang) and "Head-On" (Gegen Die Wand), which were also excellent movies. I'm glad to see that German films are achieving international recognition.
2007-03-08
You'll be watching it like the Stasi!
Films like "The Lives of Others" don't come around very often, as the film industry is dominated by loud Hollywood blockbusters with no real substance (Helena Bonham Carter would agree with me :) this, an overlooked film because it's foreign and quieter than dominating films, deserves a much wider audience. Anyone could watch "The Lives of Others" and be touched and perhaps moved by the wonderful acting and deeply drawn out characters (unless you're under 5, but we'll let you off!)

If you appreciate fine acting, this is a great film to watch. Because in foreign films you can't understand what they're saying (generally) I usually find it difficult to tell if they're acting well or not, but in "The Lives of Others" you can tell that they're delivery and performance is fantastic. Right down to the main characters walk! It also helps it to flesh out the wonderfully drawn characters. They're in-depth and you find yourself being emotionally attached to them as the Stasi man watching them! You increasingly want to see more of them making for truly compelling viewing!

The directing also adds to how compelling the film is. It's very delicate and clever in the way he tries only to show the couple in the way Wiesler also sees them, so when his shift is over, we as an audience also stop seeing the family which helps us to understand how Wiesler is so compelled with their lives and also makes it exceedingly gripping! Although, I think that the directing could've afforded to be more intense than it was, but that's only a small flaw.

The writing is incredibly intelligent and also gives you good insight to the split Germany before the Berlin wall came down. It's interesting and moving with a very touching ending. The screenplay also doesn't fear about delving deeply into the characters either. It's full of excellent characterisation and brings up some delicate themes in the correct manner.

"The Lives of Others" is a truly masterful film, every element that makes a classic film comes together perfectly. I can bet that in 50 years time "The Lives of Others" will still be watched and cherished. It's just a shame it doesn't get the recognition it deserves! Even if you don't feel that "The Lives of Others" isn't your thing, please just give it a go and I bet that'll you'll be moved and compelled by the experience. A must see!
2011-08-16
Convincing police state environment
It's 1984 East Germany. The state's secret police Stasi is an ever knowing presence. Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is an expert interrogator and teacher. Playwright Georg Dreyman and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland are loyal artistic stars. Wiesler zeros in on Wiesler and fascinated by Christa. Wiesler bugs his apartment and spies on them from the cellar. Minister of Culture Bruno Hempf lusts after Christa and coerces her into having sex. Wiesler insinuates himself into their lives by pushing her back with Dreyman. Meanwhile, Dreyman is trying to defend his writer friend Jerska but he is helpless against Hempf. When Jerska commits suicide, Dreyman secretly writes a letter denouncing the state.

This movie shows the police state as an everyday thing which is somehow more compelling and haunting. The movie is filled with greys and more greys. The character Wiesler is such a great interior person. For such a quiet character, he is able to build up so much emotion. The movie lays down a convincing foundation and constructs these human characters.
2015-01-17
The Wall
In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police (Ulrich Mühe), conducting surveillance on a writer (Sebastian Koch) and his lover (Martina Gedeck), finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

Apparently, this was one of the first post-Berlin Wall films to be a drama rather than a comedy (such as Wolfgang Becker's "Good Bye, Lenin!"). Certainly the best, if not the first. Today it is somewhat hard to imagine that not long ago Germany was split, with two sides spying on each other, when they were really one people under two governments.

Roger Ebert gave the film four stars, describing it as "a powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires." Very esoteric, Roger. There is certainly much more going on than is openly expressed in the film.
2014-11-20
Every positive word written about this movie is absolutely true
I am still quite speechless. Overwhelmed by how utterly compelling the story was and by how emotive the acting story was. Floored by the unbelievably great character development. This film is close to perfect. It is a spiritual cousin to 2004's magnificent Downfall and shares a lot of similarities with Paul Verhoeven's stunning Black Book from last year, not just because these films share two actors. This multi-faceted character driven masterpiece really is as good as it's hype says.

Sebastian Koch in particular absolutely shines. He is one of the best international actors working today and he follows the brilliance of his role in Black Book with the lead here. With his bohemian, dishevelled good looks and brilliant charisma, he's the best German-speaking actor since Bruno Ganz. But he is far from the only good actor in this movie, Ulrich Mühe as the State Security (Stasi) agent whose task it is to monitor Koch's suspiciously free thinking playwright, brings another near perfect performance to the movie. Agent Wiesler initially appears to the audience as the polar opposite of Koch's character. With his grey button down clothing, closely cropped hair and consistently emotionless face he symbolises everything about the overbearing untrusting Socialist government of East Germany that is wrong. He could easily have remained that character throughout the whole film but he becomes the surprising emotional centre of the story and the line between heroes and villains is significantly shifted (something which extends to the supporting cast as well. Truth be told there are probably only two characters in this film whom I didn't have to rethink my opinion of). Weisler reveals himself as a lonely, isolated man who risks his entire career as his attitude to his subject changes from one of mistrust to one of near-adoration. There is an undeniable link between the two characters even though they never share a single scene and Georg Dreyman (Koch) doesn't even find about Wiesler until the last 10 minutes of the movie, which leads us up to what should go down as one of the greatest endings in cinema history. Just thinking about the final spoken lines brings the tears to my eyes.

As I said, without a doubt one of the greatest movies I have ever seen. And as much as I adore Pan's Labyrinth, this one really did deserve it's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. An absolute masterpiece.
2007-04-17
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