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.
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as Christa-Maria Sieland
as Georg Dreyman
as Oberstleunant Anton Grubitz
as Minister Bruno Hempf
as Paul Hauser
as Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler
as Gregor Hessenstein
as Albert Jerska
as Karl Wallner
as Benedikt Lehmann
as Einsatzleiter in Uniform
as Frau Meineke
as Handwriting Expert
as Officer Meyer
as Unterleutnant Axel Stigler
as Egon Schwalber
as Uncle Frank Hauser
as Häftling 227
as Boy With Ball
as Doctor Czimmy
as News Presenter
as Martha in 1991
as Anja in 1984
as Anja 1991
as Elena in 1984
as Elena in 1991
as Man Arresting Christa
as "Rolf" Andi Wenzke-Falkenau
as Band Leader
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Critic Reviews for The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others is a powerful but quiet film, constructed of hidden thoughts and secret desires.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's film is a melodrama in a minor key, quietly affecting, quietly chilling, quietly quiet. It captures the drab architecture of totalitarianism, the soul-dead buildings of a soul-dead state.
Its suspense builds on the fragile and nuanced business of emotional rebirth.
A political thriller that's consistently as inventive as it is creepy.
Few would deny that The Lives of Others is true to its self, and in its depiction of human nature -- and human spirit.
Audience Reviews for The Lives of Others
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.
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.
A member of the East German secret police who is investigating a famous playwright and suspected subversive grows ever more sympathetic towards the people he is spying upon when faced with the everyday pressures of the oppressive regime he represents. Although touted as a "thriller", anyone expecting car chases and shoot-outs from The Lives Of Others will be gravely disappointed. It's a far more intellectual exercise that examines the meaning of freedom and its intimate link with personal privacy, something violated with impunity by The Stasi in the post war years of communist Germany. The story begins showing Ulrich Mühe's character as not an evil man, but a joyless, officious bureaucrat who truly believes in what he is doing. It is only when he is faced with the reality of the invasive system he is a part of that he begins to question the validity of his activities; especially when it becomes obvious that the accusations were made by a corrupt superior out of sexual jealousy and a colleague who sees the ruination of an obviously decent couple as a mere means to furthering his own career. Very nicely shot and performed, It's a thoughtful and beautifully crafted story that exercises the brain rather than the adrenaline gland and is all the more rewarding for it.
The Lives of Others Quotes
|Bookseller:||Want it gift-wrapped?|
|Captain Gerd Wiesler:||No, it's for me.|
|Georg Dreyman:||The state office for statistics on Hans-Beimler street counts everything; knows everything: how many pairs of shoes I buy a year: 2.3, how many books I read a year: 3.2 and how many students graduate with perfect marks: 6,347. But there's one statistic that isn't collected there, perhaps because such numbers cause even paper-pushers pain: and that is the suicide rate.|
|Captain Gerd Wiesler:||An innocent prisoner will become more angry by the hour due to the injustice suffered. He will shout and rage. A guilty prisoner becomes more calm and quiet. Or he cries. He knows he's there for a reason. The best way to establish guilt or innocence is non-stop interrogation.|
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