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 anSee more details below

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Overview

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:
08/21/2007
UPC:
0043396209480
Original Release:
2006
Rating:
R
Source:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:18:00
Sales rank:
23,037

Special Features

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

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 -- Lives of Others
1. Chapter 1
2. Chapter 2
3. Chapter 3
4. Chapter 4
5. Chapter 5
6. Chapter 6
7. Chapter 7
8. Chapter 8
9. Chapter 9
10. Chapter 10
11. Chapter 11
12. Chapter 12
13. Chapter 13
14. Chapter 14
15. Chapter 15
16. Chapter 16

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