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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
Reviews
Truth is stranger than fiction
Can you imagine a world where people are continuously spied on, where the police set up surveillance equipment in the attics, where even typewriters are registered and, in spite of this,a world accepting of refugees? I am not talking about science fiction. I am talking about real life, the real events that took place in East Germany before the Fall of the Wall.While I was watching 'The lives of others'I couldn't help comparing it to another film, 'Good Bye, Lenin'; both are widely applauded approaches to the recent history of East Germany. But I think one of them is definitely superior to the other; read on if you'd like to know which.Both films are German and were released more or less at the same time -around 2005- and they share factual accuracy and the atmosphere of that historical period, although the first one takes place mainly in the years before the Fall of the Wall and the second, in the years immediately after. Both films have a lot in common, such as an appealing theme, plausible dialogues, lots of moving scenes and convincing acting. In spite of sharing a common theme, they have different approaches, since 'The lives of others' shows the story of a playwright who is being spied on by 'the Party'. What is a cold relationship at the beginning of the story turns into sympathy, what seems love turns into treason, what should have been informing on somebody turns into respect and admiration. On the other hand, 'Good bye, Lenin!'is very innovative mainly because it has a large dose of comedy, which is remarkably powerful. When his mother suffers a heart attack and awakes from a coma seriously weakened, Alex, the main character has to pretend that nothing has changed, that East Berlin is the same as it was before the Fall of the Wall, because a great shock like that could cause her death, so there he goes doing the impossible to keep the 'status quo'. This situation leads to entertaining scenes and appealing dialogue. In addition, both films were recorded on set and on location -we can enjoy watching what Karl Marx Allee looked like almost thirty years ago.However, although both films portray our recent history very convincingly, I strongly recommend 'Good bye, Lenin!'because it is funny, moving and grabs your attention from the very first moment. And it can also make you think!
2015-06-09
Lives of Others........ don't miss this one!!
I am not going to repeat what everyone else has already said as I agree with most of the comments. I have just seen it at the Toronto Film Festival and out of 24 movies I saw.... it far exceeded anything else I saw in the 9 days and can only say it was my #1 favourite. I feel fortunate that I live in such a multicultural city that we have this fantastic festival to see films such as this.

I regret that I had to miss the Questions and Answers at the end of film as I had another film to get to. I would love to hear what was discussed if anyone else was there and would like to get back to me or post on board. PLEASE AND THANK YOU... sh
2006-09-16
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
Excellent study of the system and human psychology
In my opinion, the strongest idea of this film is that the weakest link of any system is THE human. And that is perfectly shown in the sequence where the writer and his friends are scheming a way to find out if his house was bugged. A supposed robotic Stasi agent showed another dimension of his character and didn't deliver the message to border patrol, although it was expected of him, so, paradoxically, he remained uncovered. You can get to know and cheat strictly defined and rigid system, but you can never fully get to know an imperfect human being. That idea eventually translates to the whole film, since we see that unexpected behavior of one man is enough to shake the entire system.

Also, the change of the main character (the Stasi agent) is not at all sudden. The crucial scene is the one with a prostitute where it is obvious that the agent is a lonely and desperate man. I would argue that his change didn't come from without (he didn't suddenly saw how bad the system is, he knew it already), but from within (his psychological state led him to make his relationship with a lonely writer personal, rather than professional).

In the end, I'd like to make clear that although I am strongly against totalitarian systems, I also quite vigorously oppose hypocritical black vs white films which try to state that the Western "democracy" is the personification of the human kindness. This film is certainly not one of those and is much more complex.
2015-04-08
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
Masterpiece !
Does not matter if they were called STASI , SECURITATE , KGB , SEKURIMI.... they are just names , but behind them they represented an instrument of terror , repression in what is now former communist countries . A man working for such an organization can be A GOOD MAN (moral,compassionate,human,unbiased,tolerant....) ? How many of them they had a conscience ? It is hard to say that agent (whatever his codename was) is torn by guilt , conscience or simply love for beautiful actress . Who knows ? For me that is an enigma . More people who voted positively for this movie are from eastern Europe ; is normal they witnessed those events (as myself) you can forget those times , with bad things , good things filtered of course by personal opinion and personal experience . I did not know then the time flew , I was enthralled , enchanted , even if I kind of had guessed some things they gonna end up bad . A very moving and humane movie !
2008-01-13
A unique movie
If you're going to see one foreign-languaged movie this year, make it this one. Better yet, if you're going to see one movie this year, make it this one. Every aspect of this movie is just outstanding. The music is hauntingly beautiful, the cinematography is excellent, and even though I don't understand much German, the writing seemed excellent as well. It's all crafted together to a level of perfection that you rarely see. You really feel like you are in East Berlin as you watch this one.

What makes this movie unique is that you don't just get a truly great story. You also get great insight to the DDR. You get to see many different sides of the republic, witnessing many different fates.

PS: I don't really know why I gave this movie a 9 instead of a 10. You know what, consider my rating a 10.
2015-08-24
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
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.
2014-01-31
Brilliant movie
Germany has produced some very good movies recently ... but this one is in a class of its own. The main power of a quality movie, for me, has always been two things, a good story and mood - and this film has both. The story keeps you interested through all 139 minutes. You actually feel yourself transported to the 1980s of the former German republic. They have carefully chosen locations that looks east-germanish ... lots of "Trabant" cars on the streets :-) and the general grayish mood is very well recreated. The ordinary peoples fear of the Stasi is realistically portrayed. And i just love the twist in the story in the last 20 minutes or so. A brilliant movie that anyone even remotely interested in non-mainstream movies should see.
2006-10-19
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