The Lives of Others (8/10)

The Lives of Others

Before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's Secret Police Listened to Your Secrets.


A tragic love story set in East Berlin with the backdrop of an undercover Stasi controlled culture. Stasi captain Wieler is ordered to follow author Dreyman and plunges deeper and deeper into his life until he reaches the threshold of doubting the system.

Title The Lives of Others
Director of Photography Hagen Bogdanski
Runtime 2 h 17 min
Certification R
Release Date 15 March 2006
Tagline Before the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's Secret Police Listened to Your Secrets.
IMDb Id tt0405094

Das Leben der Anderen is set mainly in East Germany in 1984 – a long time after WWII and the division of the two Germanies in 1949, and still shocking to realise how controlling the Stasi regime was even still in the 80s. But then again, similar things are probably going on in various countries in this day and age as well…

The story of Stasi agent Wiesler, who spies on a playwright Georg Dreyman and his girlfriend actress Christa-Maria Sieland, is a slow one. But one that does not get boring. The tension is built slowly and at times you keep wondering what all the fuss is really about – why does the Stasi care so much about these two people…?

That may also be a weaker point of this movie for some viewers – surely there must have been more dangerous threats to the regime to pick than two artists? But maybe the point that even people who might at best be considered marginal potential threats would be investigated in this way by the Stasi shows the powerful repression of the regime at the time.

It is an engaging movie even if the characters and plot feel a bit stereotypical at times. The main weakness of the movie in my opinion is that agent Wiesler shows so little emotion that we don’t really understand how he evolved from the scrupulous Stasi agent he is at start of the movie to the person he finds himself to be towards the end of the film. But at the same time – that is exactly what makes it all the more fascinating to watch…

As a non-German movie-watcher, I would think this is probably the best German drama I have seen. Best German war-action movie would be Das Boot, and best German comedy would be Goodbye Lenin. Hmmm… seems there may well be a theme to this selection…

Anyways – Das Leben der Anderen is a recommended watch.

The Lives of Others (8/10)
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