Lives of Others
  • Lives of Others
  • Lives of Others

Lives of Others

4.6 19
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Cast: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch


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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…  See more details below


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. Grubitz (Ulrich Tukur), invites him to a theatrical piece by celebrated East German playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), Minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) informs Weisler that he suspects Dreyman of political dissidence, and wonders if this renowned patriot is all that he seems to be. As it turns out, Hempf has something of an ulterior motive for trying to pin something on Dreyman: a deep-seated infatuation with Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), Dreyman's girlfriend. Nevertheless, Grubitz, who is anxious to further his career, appoints Weisler to spy on the gentleman with his help. Weisler plants listening devices in Dreyman's apartment and begins shadowing the writer. As Weisler monitors Dreyman's daily life, however (from a secret surveillance station in the gentleman's attic), he discovers the writer is one of the few East Germans who genuinely believes in his leaders. This changes over time, however, as Dreyman discovers that Christa-Maria is being blackmailed into a sexual relationship with Hempf, and one of Dreyman's friends, stage director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert), is driven to suicide after himself being blackballed by the government. Dreyman's loyalty thus shifts away from the East German government, and he anonymously posts an anti-establishment piece in a major newspaper which rouses the fury of government officials. Meanwhile, Weisler becomes deeply emotionally drawn into the lives of Dreyman and Sieland, and becomes something of an anti-establishment figure himself, embracing freedom of thought and expression. A major box-office success in Germany, Das Leben der Anderen (aka The Lives of Others) received its North American premiere at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
American viewers may be more familiar with The Lives of Others as the film that upset Pan's Labyrinth for the 2006 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar than they are from having seen it themselves. But those who did see it understood full well why this German sociopolitical drama deserved every honor a body of voters might bestow it. While most of the memorable "Big Brother is watching" films have dealt with future dystopias, rookie writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck finds plenty of this justified paranoia in his own country's recent history. For Westerners, it's a truly chilling view into East Germany as controlled by the Communists and policed by the Stasi during the 1980s. But The Lives of Others is no clinical look into German history -- it's an involving character study full of difficult choices and suspenseful moments, and it plays out to an extremely satisfying conclusion. All the performances are effective, but this is Ulrich Mühe's film -- an amazing statement given his even, quiet performance. A true believer in the twin weapons of intensive surveillance and emotional torture, who teaches students to perfect these very principles, Mühe's Gerd Wiesler pursues his job with a dogmatic fervor that's concentrated into near wordlessness. It's a real measure of his capabilities as an actor, then, that he takes the viewer on such a profound arc toward enlightenment, remarkable in its subtlety. The title may be a bit inexact -- "The Political Philosophies of Others" might have cut closer to how Wiesler is affected by the playwright and his girlfriend. But how to employ his newfound ideas, when similar zealots are monitoring his own protocols for any chinks in his resolve? The Lives of Others is an equal joy to watch aesthetically, shot expertly by Hagen Bogdanski and dressed with an artful drabness by production designer Silke Buhr. And with its thematic parallels to the Bush administration's domestic wire-tapping policies, it crackles with immediacy.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Making of The Lives of Others; Interview with director Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck; Director's commentary

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Martina Gedeck Christa-Maria Sieland
Ulrich Mühe Captain Gerd Wiesler
Sebastian Koch Georg Dreyman
Ulrich Tukur Lieutenant Colonel Anton Grubitz
Thomas Thieme Minister Bruno Hempf
Hans-Uwe Bauer Paul Hauser
Herbert Knaup Gregor Hessenstein
Volkmar Kleinert Albert Jerska
Matthias Brenner Karl Wallner
Charly Hubner Udo
Bastian Trost Prisoner 227
Marie Gruber Mrs. Meineke
Volker Zack Michalowski Handwriting Expert
Werner Daehn Officer in Uniform
Martin Brambach Officer Meyer
Hubertus Hartmann Egon Schwalber
Thomas Arnold Nowack
Hinnerk Schönemann Sub-lieutenant Axel Stigler
Paul Fassnacht Uncle Frank Hauser
Ludwig Blochberger Benedikt Lehmann
Paul Maximilian Schüller Boy With Ball
Susanna Kraus Andrea
Gabi Fleming Ute
Michael Gerber Doctor Czimmy
Fabian von Kiltzing News Presenter
Harald Polzin Guard
Sheri Hagen Martha in 1991
Gitta Schweighöfer Anja in 1984
Elja-Dusa Kedves Anja 1991
Hildegard Schroedter Elena in 1984
Inga Birkenfeld Elena in 1991,BSTU Employee
Philipp Kewenik Man Arresting Christa
Jens Wassermann "Rolf" Andi Wenzke-Falkenau
Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky Band Leader
Manfred Ludwig Sextett Band
Kai Ivo Baulitz Bookseller
Adam Klemens Conductor

Technical Credits
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck Director,Co-producer,Screenwriter
Simone Baer Casting
Simone Bär Casting
Claudia Beewen Asst. Director
Quirin Berg Producer
Gabriele Binder Costumes/Costume Designer
Hagen Bogdanski Cinematographer
Silke Buhr Art Director,Production Designer
James Fitzpatrick Musical Direction/Supervision
Claudia Gladziejewski Editor
Dirk Hamm Co-producer
Monika Lobkowicz Editor
Adrian Lorberth Special Effects
Stéphane Moucha Score Composer
Hubertus Rath Sound/Sound Designer
Patricia Rommel Editor
Christoph von Schönburg Sound/Sound Designer
Andreas Schreitmüller Editor
Annet Schulze Makeup
Sabine Schumann Makeup
Kerstina Schumann Makeup
Hans Seck Special Effects
Klaus Spielhagen Set Decoration/Design
Hubert von Spreti Editor
Tom Sternitzke Production Manager
Max Wiedemann Producer
Arno Wilms Sound/Sound Designer
Gabriel Yared Score Composer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Lives of Others
1. Enemy of the State [4:06]
2. Important Indicators [3:32]
3. A New Vision [4:27]
4. Politics Partner [2:21]
5. Changing Mankind [3:59]
6. Hot Pursuit [4:41]
7. Birthday Deal [6:11]
8. Man of the Hour [3:50]
9. Opening Presents [6:45]
10. Meeting Someone [7:09]
11. Startling News [7:41]
12. Find Something [6:20]
13. Late Night Cap [4:46]
14. Counting Lives [4:22]
15. Safe Waters [5:33]
16. Play Wrights [5:09]
17. Project Success [4:06]
18. Anniversary Play [6:25]
19. Keep Ears Open [3:12]
20. Few Questions [6:27]
21. She Knows [2:50]
22. Your Audience Awaits [5:56]
23. State Security [4:04]
24. Mission Over [3:32]
25. Breaking Barriers [4:18]
26. Surveying the Situation [6:30]
27. On the Trail [2:11]
28. Gift for Me [6:57]


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The Lives of Others 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"The Lives of Othes" is a perfect example on how foreign filmmakers can tople American filmmakers due to the fact they show more grit, passion and determination. Now, I wouldn't say that "The Lives of Others" was the BEST FOREIGN LANGAUGE FILM OF 2006 like the Oscars stated last year. I think "Pan's Labyrinth" should of taken that prize home. But "The Lives of Others" is vulgar and brilliant. The characters are very well written and looked into. Rarely now days do writers let us get to know the characters we're watching, inless of course you're Quentin Tarantino. The writing is superb, dido the acting and the directing. It's hard to believe as you watch it that this is a first time director's project. So whats the downfall of "The Lives of Others?" Well, its a bit of a slowburn. Much like "The Good Shepherd." And I found myself time to time slogging through a film that has no pulse, but overall I was very much satisfied and I do recommend this film (hint: the 4 star rating I gave it), but I have to warn you, if you are not a fan of films that take their time unraveling at a few minutes shy of 2 and a half hours, this may not be the flick for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is no spy thriller, there's no gunplay, and the chases are short and anti-climatic. It's a good view of life inside East Germany, that, if anything, makes it seem not as bad as people have told me. I like the way in which the movie shows that friendships and relationships were so important in the DDR, and wish it would have better-illustrated the sense of betrayal people felt when they learned of Stasi collaborators. ANyway, this is not a movie you'll want to miss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Das Leben der Anderen (The Live of Others) is a powerful film that opens a window to the West of what life was like in East Germany during the time of the Berlin Wall. It is a tense yet balanced work by newcomer writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck who manages to present a tense story of espionage, suspense, intrigue, and political danger without the need for car chases, explosions, gunfire, or any of the usual accoutrements that pulse through other stories of this nature. Instead von Donnersmarck shows us the interior lives of his characters, both those working with the East German government and Secret Police and those who struggled to survive individuality. One of the primary jobs of the Secret Police (Stasi) was to spy on informers and those who would leak information about East Germany to the West. One fact that was kept under lock and key was the high rate of suicide, especially among artists who could not bear the crushing eye of the Eastern police, that would be devastating information if leaked into the press of the West: this forms the nidus for the story of this film. It is 1984 and one agent - Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe - who sadly died in July 2007 of stomach cancer) is assigned the duty of spying on popular playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his live-in girlfriend, brilliant actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). Dreyman is a friend of blacklisted director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert) and when Jerska commits suicide Dreyman feels compelled to get in the information to the West into a popular magazine in hopes that action will be taken. Wiesler alters his spying routine when he discovers that the Stasi official to whom he reports has different designs on Georg and Christa-Maria and his spirit shifts subtly in support of the artists. It is this inner struggle within Wiesler that alters the manner in which his spying information is reported and Wiesler's courageous deeds alter the Stasi plans to destroy the artists' venture. The manner in which Wiesler interplays with the Stasi and covers for the artists is a towering example of the dignity of the individual human soul threatened by the worst of circumstances. The results of Wiesler's decisions alter with the fall of the Wall in 1989 in a deeply touching yet very subtle way. The technical aspects of this film - cinematography, pacing, lighting, editing, and the splendid musical scored my Gabriel Yared - are as fine as any film created by seasoned directors. The manner in which von Donnersmarck keeps every actor focused on the inner personality, as much by body language and silences as well as by dialogue, is astonishingly fine. This is a fascinating story, told with elegant understatement and most worthy of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely well crafted film in the vein of 'The Constant Gardener'. The actors are perfect for their roles, every character is richly drawn, you want to know more about these people. The director evokes the time period, pre-glasnost, with a chilling, confident hand. I cannot remember a movie experience that had so profoundly affected me after the closing credits.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Terrific movie! "The Lives of Others" is a riveting time-period story, and it refreshingly shuns violence and special effects. It's a wonder a movie this dramatically taut gets made anymore. The movie relies on the intensity of relationships, and it keeps you thinking start to finish. The photography is pinpoint perfect. "The Lives of Others" reminds us of what really great filmmaking is about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After seeing this movie the first time in theaters with my then roommate, I was exstatic about it and decided it was going to be one of my favorite movies. The emotion of the writing and acting was very believable for me, which I think is hard to find in most movies these days. I recommend it to everybody.
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As a rule I don't watch subtitled movies but this is a must see for my children who have no concept of Socialism. In our fast paced lives we can become complacent, dare I say, lazy about excesses of government. And when we ask how could those people let that happen, we need to be more self-reflective about politics today. This is a movie I can honestly recommend to any thinking person that values individual freedom but perhaps needs a push toward appreciating it.