jump to navigation

The Lives of Others-Movie Review *** 10/28/2010

Posted by Films to consider in German language film, Movies, Suspense.

The Lives of Others (German) 2006

Winner, Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards

Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch.

A chilling look at how the Stasi (State Secret Police) functioned in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Writer Georg Dreyman (Koch) manages to stay on the right side of the Stasi, although he continues to associate with others who run into trouble. When his girlfriend Christa-Maria (Gedeck) catches the eye of a high Stasi official, however, Dreyman is put under the surveillance of Captain Gerd Weisler (Mühe), a bland lower-level Stasi operative.

After Dreyman’s good friend, a blacklisted director, commits suicide, Georg agrees to use his own writing to inform the world about the tactics of the Stasi. Captain Weisler, in turn, has become obsessed by the couple he is listening in on. He even reads some of the books in Georg’s library, which opens up a whole new world to him. He makes a bold decision that reflects the changes he himself is experiencing.

A high level of suspense is maintained throughout this lengthy movie, making it one of my highly recommended films.

137 min. Rated R.



1. MaryAnne Lyons - 10/29/2010

It’s rare for a movie to find itself on my list of all-time favorites after just one viewing, but this one did. I’ve since watched it at least five times (and have shown it in class a few of those times) and am as enthralled now as the first time i saw it! What i love most about it is the brilliantly nuanced performance of Ulrich Muehe as the Stasi agent. His character is changed so dramatically from the beginning of the film to the end, but that change occurs so slowly and subtly that it is completely believable.
I also love the look of the film, the dull colors of a dull regime and the kooky decor of the home shared by the playwright and actress. But mostly i love how uplifting the story is as it shows how even the most seemingly cold and inhuman of us can somehow change for the better.

filmstoconsider - 11/01/2010

I thought the director did a great job of understating the characters of Georg and Christa-Maria, making the changes in Weisler even more remarkable.
Also, great care was taken to use authentic recording equipment for the surveillance. The sight of a bank of spinning wheels of tape was very daunting.
Thanks for suggesting this film. I loved it!

2. John Shields - 10/30/2010

I would simply say that this movie, about which i knew relatively little beforehand, vaulted right onto my proverbial top ten favorite films. I have only seen it once but this should prompt me to revisit it. The ending is sublime.

filmstoconsider - 11/01/2010

Some people criticize the ending as going on too long. I didn’t think so. Without giving too much away, I thought Weisler, while changed by his experience, still retained much of his former self and that his new life was not overly idealized.
Glad you liked it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: