Box Office - 11/01/2006
"[A] fascinating look at the political and psychological underpinnings of communist control in former East Germany....Muhe is remarkably subtle..."
Premiere - 12/01/2006
"A remarkably engrossing thriller concerning the very intimate surveillance that was the bread and butter of the East German secret police in the bad old days of the Cold War."
Film Comment - 01/01/2007
"[N]ever less than intelligent....The proposition that THE LIVES OF OTHERS puts forth, aside from its obvious call to examine the East German era, is both rehabilitative and romantic..."
Rolling Stone - 02/08/2007 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Von Donnersmarck has crafted the best kind of movie: one you can't get out of your head."
New York Times - 02/09/2007
"[A] suspenseful, ethically exacting drama, beautifully realized by the writer and director Florian Henckle von Donnersmarck..."
Entertainment Weekly - 02/16/2007
"[U]tterly riveting....The filmmaker's control of story and pacing is so wily, his script so literate, that to reveal much more would interfere with the thrill of the tentacled plot's twists."
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 01/01/2007
"THE LIVES OF OTHERS is a moral drama and also an offbeat love story, one that acquires depth from its superb performances."
Total Film - 05/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "An outstanding psychological and political thriller....THE LIVES OF OTHERS examines the chilling realities of existence under a totalitarian system."
Sight and Sound - 05/01/2007
"[The film] has a majestic quality. Gabriel Yared's music, Hagen Bodanski's sombre cinematography and, above all, the performances add dignity and pathos."
USA Today - 08/24/2007 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[The film] is creepiest when you stop to think that its story isn't ancient history..."
Empire - 10/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his is a truthful story...with profound things to say about who and what we really are, and who and what we can choose to be."
Uncut - 11/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] sharply intelligent and impressively sombre suspense drama..."
In East Berlin in 1984, the secret police, known as the Stasi, are gaining more and more control, spying on German citizens, and recruiting thousands of them to spy on each other. Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) has been ordered to find something on playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), so he sets up a surveillance room and listens closely as Dreyman, his actress girlfriend, Christa-Marie Sieland (Martina Gedeck), and various suspected radical friends gather in their apartment. But when Wiesler discovers that culture minister Bruno Hempf (Thomas Thieme) cast suspicion on Dreyman only so he can have his way with Sieland, the master interrogator and torture teacher starts taking a long look at just what it all is about.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS, cowritten and directed by first-timer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is a tense, compelling thriller about a critical time in German history. Mühe is mesmerizing as the complicated Wiesler, a loyal soldier until he learns too much. The wildly talented Koch is outstanding as Dreyman, a man with a lot to say but desperate to avoid the same fate as his mentor, theater director Albert Jerska (Volkmar Kleinert). Inspired by actual events and real characters, THE LIVES OF OTHERS was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007. Interestingly, during and after the filming of the movie, several of the actors (including Mühe) found out that they or their families had been victims of the Stasi--and in one case, the father of an actor (Charly Hubner) was revealed to have been a member of the Stasi himself.
Cold War |
Set in East Berlin five years before the fall of the Berlin wall, THE LIVES OF OTHERS explores the ways in which a party loyalist's point of view changes as the result of his surveillance of and immersion in the lives of a playwright and his actress girlfriend.