Drama set in East Berlin prior to the fall of the communist government. Captain Gerd Weiser (Ulrich Muhe) is assigned to surveillance duties, specifically to collect information on popular dramatist Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress partner Christa Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). As he becomes more and more submerged in their lives, Weiser's own attitudes to life, politics and the state begin to change, and it's not long before he finds himself in a dangerous situation.
In the former East Germany, no-one was above suspicion. Like George Orwell's vision of the future come to life, art and people and relationships were monitored obsessively; The Lives Of Others
captures not only the paranoia and danger inherent in such a world, but also expresses hope that even in the most desperate situations, people can make a difference.
The story of The Lives Of Others unfolds mostly through the eyes of a secret service agent who's been given the task of spying on an artistic couple who've attracted the attention of the Minister of Culture. Little by little, he's drawn into their lives even as we're drawn into his; and as he loses his faith in the government, he must decide whether or not to try to hide the transgressions of those he's watching. As the physical danger and emotional cost mounts, it's impossible not to become utterly engrossed; intelligent and well-written, The Lives Of Others is also deeply moving.
It's rare to find a film that really deserves its rave reviews, and considering The Lives Of Others won a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, it's got a lot to live up to. Happily, it's more than just up to scratch--it's absolutely brilliant. --Sarah Dobbs
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