The Lives of Others (2006)



Critic Consensus: Unlike more traditional spy films, The Lives of Others doesn't sacrifice character for cloak and dagger chases, and the performances (notably that by the late Ulrich Muhe) stay with you.

Movie Info

A man who has devoted his life to ferreting out "dangerous" characters is thrown into a quandary when he investigates a man who poses no threat in this drama, the first feature from German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. It's 1984, and Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) is an agent of the Stasi, the East German Secret Police. Weisler carefully and dispassionately investigates people who might be deemed some sort of threat to the state. Shortly after Weisler's former classmate, Lt. Col. … More

Rating: R (for some sexuality/nudity)
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By: ,
Written By: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 21, 2007
Box Office: $11.2M
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


as Christa-Maria Sielan...

as Hauptmann Gerd Wiesl...

as Georg Dreyman

as Oberstleunant Anton ...

as Minister Bruno Hempf

as Paul Hauser

as Gregor Hessenstein

as Albert Jerska

as Karl Wallner

as Benedikt Lehmann

as Einsatzleiter in Uni...

as Frau Meineke

as Handwriting Expert

as Officer Meyer

as Egon Schwalber

as Unterleutnant Axel S...

as Häftling 227

as Uncle Frank Hauser

as Doctor Czimmy

as News Presenter

as Martha in 1991

as Anja in 1984

as Elena in 1984

as Elena in 1991

as Man Arresting Christ...

as "Rolf" Andi Wenzke-F...

as Bookseller
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Lives of Others

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Critic Reviews for The Lives of Others

All Critics (157) | Top Critics (52)

The Lives of Others is a powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.

Full Review… | September 21, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Reopens our eyes to the cruelties and soul assassinations that were carried out daily in the name of state socialism.

Full Review… | September 26, 2014
Daily Telegraph

The scope is especially impressive given that the movie is about a society obsessively focused on the tiniest of details.

Full Review… | August 5, 2011

Activism proves tough on people who've thrived at their political patrons' blessings, and one character cruelly chooses a path of least resistance when the chips are down. A cataclysmic conclusion depicts political clamps on expression and emotion.

Full Review… | September 19, 2010

If the filmmaker commits a crime, it's in pushing the [Stasi] character's rehabilitation slightly too far--about as much as the weight of a teardrop.

Full Review… | August 24, 2009

A truly unforgettable movie.

Full Review… | June 24, 2008

Audience Reviews for The Lives of Others

Reminded me of Terry Gilliams's Brazil but with none of the the fantasy elements. And a lot more somber. Somberer. (?)

Any one else get that?

Also, one of the best last lines ever.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

Detailing the lives of those in the Communist controlled GDR, "The Lives of Others" succinctly shows the humanism of those in the Stasi (secret German police). While most dystopian texts and films deal with the fight between the enemy (government) and the hunted (citizens) this film deals more in showing how all people were oppressed by this form of Communism, and the lengths this government took in silencing dissenters. It created a blatant, all-encompassing fear among its people as well. The characters have complex motivations for their actions: the playwright loves his country but is touched by its darkness when his friend is blacklisted, his girlfriend has a drug addiction and needs the help of a high ranking official, and the culture minister uses government resources for personal reasons under a veil of socialist reform. The transformation of the main character from a detached and yet passionate government worker, into a fully realized dissenter, is shown throughout the course of the film. The irony of the events, and the interconnected evolution of each character's feelings towards their country, shape the film's narrative. Much of this film remains gripping if not subtle in its depictions. Not only will you learn quite a bit about the operational exploits of the Stasi, but the true feelings of oppression exhibited by the main characters.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


Before going Hollywood with The Tourist, writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck delivered the goods with this stellar Cold War drama.

The time is 1984. The place is East Germany. Our protagonist is a member of the Stasi, or State Secret Police. His job is to constantly monitor the activities of whoever he is told to. And he does, being the consummate professional that he is. Things start to get iffy though when he is assigned to monitor a playright who has a reputation for being a staunch pro-Communist...especially when the revelations he uncovers have major consequences for lots of people, including himself.

I really loved this one. It's weird for me to say that too, because surveillance and bugging, and all of that creeps me out. The world of paranoia and secrecy is quite fascinating though, especially here since this is a period piece rooted in interesting history.

The film is subtle, quiet, intelligent, and really rewarding for the patient. It's also gorgeous in its look, mood, tone, atmosphere, and art direction/set design. It is a thriller, bbut not the slam bang wall -to-wall action type, and that's what I liked about it. Yeah, there's some development lacking with some of the characters, but overall this is still a marvelous piece of work with some tremendous acting, good ideas, and great subject matter.

Definitely give this one a look. It's not going to be for all tastes, but if you enjoyed something like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, then you'll probably enjoy this one as well.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

The Lives of Others Quotes

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