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The Lives of Others [DVD] [2007]

Ulrich Mühe , Martina Gedeck , Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (272 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme
  • Directors: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Writers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
  • Producers: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Andreas Schreitmüller, Claudia Gladziejewski, Dirk Hamm, Max Wiedemann
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Classification: R (Restricted) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (272 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JPO8



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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
95 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 23 Dec 2007
This film holds you spellbound. I saw it first in the cinema and you could have heard a pin drop. Had read the critics rave reviews particularly about one actor but didn't realise who it was until about half hour into the film. Ulrich Muhe is absolutely superb in his role as the Stasi Officer. He gives a faultless performance. He dominates every scene. How sad to find out he died not too long after making this film. This film is without doubt the best film I have seen in many years. The atmosphere of the GDR inhibits you. The horrors and loss of liberty suddenly become real to the viewer in a way that has never been portrayed before. Fantastic direction of superb actors at a magnificent pace. Buy this and add it to your collection, it will become a classic.
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257 of 264 people found the following review helpful
Utterly, utterly wonderful. This is a story of redemption and atonement and explores whether, and to what extent, they are possible. The contrast of the personal joy, love, friendship, kinship and art, against the backdrop and circumstance of the 1984 GDR is completely sublime and the direction is faultless. It is the acting that is jaw-dropping though - an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film is fantastic recognition, but at least three of the four major acting gongs would have found a more deserved home here. The ending is the most appropriate and well edited I have ever come across and left me in tears - a personal first for any film. I cannot give it higher praise than the truth - I have never seen better cinema than this. Enjoy.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What is a director that cannot direct?" 7 May 2007
"The lives of others" (= "Das leben der anderen") is a wonderful film directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Truth to be told, I hadn't heard his name before, but I'm certain that I won't forget it now. This film, his debut as a director, is simply exceptional. An engaging political thriller, this movie is at the same time a complex study regarding the power of choices, and the way we behave when faced to our worst fears.

The story is set in East Germany in 1984, when the lack of freedom and the zeal of the Secret Police (Stasi) were pervasive. Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) is an agent that specializes in discovering "traitors", that is, those that don't agree with everything that the government says. Wiesler is very good at his job, and has no mercy for those that don't add up to his ideal of what a good socialist should be.

That is probably the reason why his superior assigns him the task of of spying on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), a well-known socialist playwright that is nonetheless suspicious, due to his friends. Dreyman lives with his girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), a talented actress that loves him but has sexual trysts with a powerful government official that promises her that she will never be in the black list of artist that cannot work.

As Wiesler learns more about the couple, thanks to the hidden microphones his team installed in their apartment, he starts warming towards them. He even protects them when Dreyman becomes actively involved in "subversive" activities, as a reaction to the suicide of a friend that had been blacklisted. But how far will Wiesler risk himself? And can human beings really change?
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135 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad, thoughtful and redemptive film 9 Jun 2007
The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) is one of the best films I've seen in a long, long time. It's sad, thoughtful and redemptive, and it deals with major themes. We're in East Germany a few years before the fall of the Berlin wall. The Stasi are everywhere, watching everyone and punishing in brutal or subtle ways anyone who might be even an implied threat to the government. Their greatest tool is the system of informers that reaches everywhere, people who may relay indiscretions to the Stasi because they believe in what they are doing, but more often are compromised into doing so. People are given terrible choices to either work with the Stasi as informers or see their careers or their children's futures destroyed. One-third of the East German population is kept under Stasi surveillance. Everyone, it seems, is being watched by someone.

Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) is a playwright who has made his accommodations with the regime, has won awards and has learned not to go too far. The mere fact that he is seen as reliable makes him a subject of Stasi interest. That, and because his lover, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), is coveted by a powerful official who wants Dreyman ruined. Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), a dedicated, colorless Stasi officer, noted for his reliability and interrogation skills, is assigned the job of monitoring Dreyman. This means installing bugs in Dreyman's apartment where Dreyman lives with Sieland, setting up 24 hour monitoring, recording everything and preparing reports. Wiesler takes his share of listening in. Weisler seems to have no purpose but his dedication to the ideals of the East German system, but even he can see the corruption of those ideals.
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film-making 22 Mar 2008
Upon hearing the rave reviews for this film and noticing that it had won Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars, I was expecting to be a little disappointed. How wrong I was. This film does nothing spectacularly different or innovative. It just tells its story and tells it extremely well.
The acting is amazing and if the Oscars had any credibility then Ulrich Muhe would have been nominated in the best actor category. His character starts off as cold and not very likeable, however, we gradually warm to him and by the end my opinion of him had changed utterly. I've only learned upon reading this page that Muhe died shortly after completing this film. It really is a fitting tribute.
It's one of the few films that has moved me to tears by the end and it wasn't achieved by cheap sentimentality but a genuinely moving story and fantastic performances all round.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best!!
If you can handle watching a subtitled movie then this is one of the best you can hope to see. The acting is first class, story compelling (and educational) and gives a real... Read more
Published 5 days ago by mr hundle
5.0 out of 5 stars Recomended
Brilliant film, well made & well acted!
Published 12 days ago by dave shep
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 24 days ago by John Lessore
4.0 out of 5 stars Das Leben de Anderen
An important film for alerting you to what can motivate anyone if they are not careful to keep a sense of personal integrity but at the same time, understand how fear can make one... Read more
Published 1 month ago by avril phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars possibly my favourite film
very moving.
Alos very shocking. While this film is not actually based on a true story, from my reading round the internet, it IS true that the scale and breadth of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dr C MACLAVERTY
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling viewing
I watched this with absolutely no preconception and felt like a fly on the wall in a ghastly dream. Superb piece of film making
Published 1 month ago by Patrick E. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent film
Excellent film, well worth renting or buying on dvd especially if one enjoys watching german films.
Enjoyed watching film very much.
Published 1 month ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I have watched this movie a number to times now and it simply gets better with each viewing, a story well told and well acted. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Declan P. O. Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars intertesting picture of a gone time
I heard about this film - so I ordered it.

And I was not disappointed, it's an intertesting picture of a gone time.
Published 2 months ago by Frank67
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies of all time.
A serious examination of the Stasi's intrusion into people's lives in the post-war era. Understated drama throughout, immaculate performances and an ending which you will never... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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