The Lives of Others
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Customer Reviews:

  • Intriguing!
    I have seen this movie 2 times and I am showing it to my English class and Global History class this week. Reading the subtitles makes it an excellent activity for those learning and reading in English. The Global History lesson about freedom is made more powerful with the conclusion of this film....more info
  • Redemption is always possible
    This is one of the best experiences I have had in a movie theatre, ever. It will change you, if you let it. How? Because it will show you how a man, a bad man, becomes a good man, a hero, without trying, just by turning toward that void inside each of us that knows, just knows, right from wrong. You will loathe the main character in Act I. By Act III, you will love him. Long after you have left the theatre, you will not be able to stop thinking about him. In the long run, you will never again be able to look at your neighbors in the same way. I used to treat everyone the same, as just another potential means to an end. Not now. I can't say I'm a better person. But only that everyone else seems to be. Maybe this film just reminded me that in a land filled with liars and thieves and fools, it's still better to be kind. ...more info
  • Still thinking about it 4 weeks later
    My husband and I watch The Lives of Others and liked it so much, I bought it on Amazon. Even this morning, I found myself thinking about it. There are times when parts of the movie replays, unbidden, in my mind. The movie played on my belief in basic human goodness and in the never-ending capacity of each of us to grow, even in the bleaker times. Even when fear, hatred, horror, arrogance, boredom, and sheer pettiness just seeps through out. This is a keeper....more info
  • Great film apart from lead actress and finale
    I thought the lead actress was terrible, almost sleep walking compared to the rest of the cast, which might have been because she was supposed to be on drugs, but she was certainly not the fascinating actress that everyone was supposed to adore.

    And the last part of the film-if they had just finished at the Berlin Wall falling, that would have been enough. The convoluted search for the truth in the end was a bit silly. Could he not have just told him when they were at the scene of the car accident that he had done it and to watch his back and who had betrayed him?

    Otherwise, super performances, very clever film....more info
  • A serious drama not afraid to deliver "popcorn movie" moments of excitement
    Involving, beautifully shot drama set in 1984 East Germany centers around Wiesler, a member of the secret police who routinely undertakes surveillance of outspoken artistic and political types. Played by the excellent Ulrich Muhe, Wiesler is initially a hardline socialist ideologue, but- through his constant eavesdropping- begins to sympathize with his subjects, to the point where he alters his reports to his superiors in order to protect them. Wiesler's change of heart is further helped along by the frequent corruption he witnesses among his colleagues, as they use their political power not to further the socialist cause but to advance their careers and even remove romantic rivals.

    Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck keeps things moving along and involving, and is thankfully not one of those directors who thinks he has to mirror the drab lives of Cold War-era Eastern Europe with drab visuals. Here the colors are deep, resonant, and quite beautiful, yet still somehow keeping with the melancholy nature of the film. I was pleased to see him mention this very aim- his desire to avoid the dull look of past films with a similar setting- during an interview in the DVD's special features section. But I shouldn't have been surprised, as good work doesn't happen by accident. I also liked that the engaging von Donnersmarck is quite unpretentious. He enthusiastically talks, for example, about how the Indiana Jones movies have a unique color palette to underscore their flavor and how he wanted to use their example to create his own color palette to underscore his own themes.

    "The Lives of Others" is the serious, worthy film I expected it to be. But I was surprised at how involving and entertaining it was on top of that. It certainly deserved all the attention it garnered a year or two back when it was making the rounds in this country. You can't go wrong spending an evening with this thoughtful, moving, and often exciting drama. ...more info
  • Falling into the Lives of Others...
    From the first frame to the last incredibly moving moment, "The Lives of Others" tells a delicate, suspenseful and beautifully moving story about an East German officer before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and how his surveillance of a playwright and his wife changes his life (and theirs) forever. The title is as much about envy as it is about discovery -- the main character is a painfully solitary man -- one who has always done his duty -- but this small surveillance changes him in ways he could never have anticipated. He grows to care for the lives he witnesses -- and to (perhaps) envy them.

    For instance, there's a small incidental scene where a little boy passes on his father's insult about the Stazi (the DDR police) and the man turns to snap at the boy and to reflexively ask what his father's name is (as he is used to doing -- everyone is supposed to be 'turned in' for the slightest infraction). And yet he has changed. He can't finish the sentence. It's a very small moment but it stayed with me.

    For those who may be a bit skittish about foreign films or 'art' films, I strongly recommend giving this movie a shot. It's easy to follow, incredibly well acted, and has a powerful ending. As a snapshot of a particularly grim time and place, it's terrifying. The suspense is a constant presence because of the "everyone's watching" premise -- every word overheard, every action seen, every thought anticipated. The tension is constant.

    And Ulrich Mhe simply owns the film. I was so sorry to hear of his death after filming, as the man has an incredible screen presence -- he's absolutely riveting, and despite his character's quietness, your eye is always drawn to him. His face is so expressive that its very stillness is powerful (and never more so than in the film's final and very satisfying moment).

    Note: The main Amazon review talks about "too many epilogues" and I can't disagree with this enough. The ending, for me, is perfect -- heartlifting, powerful, and beautiful....more info
  • The Lives of Others - great movie
    My girlfriend is German and i speak some German so we heard about this movie and decided to buy it. Great movie and it earned an Oscar . the movie shows how controlling the East Germans were over their people and how they achieved that control. might be too artsy a movie for some that may prefer Jim Carey/Adam Sandler movies which i ABSOLUTELY LOVE. my favorite genre is Comedy, funny enough. still this movie is thought provoking and shows you how much bureaucracy it takes for a government to keep their people down. everything can be stifled especially the arts, music and movies specifically.
    Bottom line, good movie whether you speak (or are) German, but resonates more if you do or are....more info
  • Exceptional film about how a corrupt system can pervert people's lives
    Superb German film about how people operate within the corrupt and perverted German Democratic Republic 4 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall; some people are just bad like the odious Minister Hempf, others face the fear of a visit from the dreaded Stasi for their activities, while others are forced to inform on their friends, and still others like Oberstleutnant Anton Grubitz just make do within a system they don't even believe in.
    "The Lives of Others" features a brilliant script from Writer/Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and equally brilliant direction - every scene contains telling little moments as he draws great performances out of a wonderful cast. Excellent music and production design add to the impact.
    An altogether exceptional film....more info
  • unexpected hit
    The movie is both good and entertaining, the acting is simply superb, the historic reconstruction is very believable.

    ...more info
  • Great movie....
    the subtitles are very easy to read in this blu-ray format; very clear.I think it was worth the extra cost as I will watch it many times......more info
  • HGW XX/7 rules!
    One of the best films I've been watching for months, and I have seen quite a bit of them! Also I visisted the Stasi headquarters in Berlin some years ago which appear in this film and are in reality now a museum open to the public, tell you: Spooky place! Besides Ulrich Mhe also played in the original "Funny Games" a stunning sadistic film from Michael Haneke. ...more info
  • DVD Region Codes
    I would like to take this opportunity to complain about the region codes of DVDs. I think that they are a major nuisance and just the consequence of the sort of greed that brought the global financial system so close to collapse. They serve no other purpose than squeezing a maximum of dollars out of the pockets of customers. Amazon as a major buyer might very well be in a position to do something effective against this nonsense. Would be great!...more info
  • One of the great films
    This is a truly extraordinary film on every level: a profound, humanistic, historically meticulous work; stunningly researched; exquisitely filmed; brilliantly acted. It ranks among the greatest achievements of cinema. Lenin, according to Gorky, said that he could not continue to listen to Beethoven's "Appasionata," because he would stroke the heads that he must crush. This is a film about a Lenin who hears the music, and, above all, the music of other people's lives. It is simply unforgettable....more info
  • The lives of others
    Great! Being one that actually had first hand experience with the East German Stasi this movie is dead on. The late Ulrich Muhe who plays the villian turned sympathetic hero, knows his role perfect, his second wife spied on him for the secret police in East Germany....more info
  • Scary Stuff
    This movie should be watched by every person 18 and older in this country...especially in the light of the results of the recent election. If anyone would like to see for themselves the extent to which an out of control, nanny state government can reach this is required viewing....more info
  • The lives of others
    The best movie that covers a lot of the eastern way. I was born there.
    My grandparents where seperatet from us between east and west. I visitet every year from the time I was 8 years old to 14 years old. I had various exeriances crossing the border and livering in the comunist country 6 weeks every year. There be lots more canvas for other movies.
    Exellent viewing and exellent as far as facts go....more info
  • You must see this film!!!
    I work for government and I have my fair share of seeing characters like Minister Hempt and Lt. Colonel Grubitz, whom appear to the world staunch beholders of believes and ideals but in reality are just power hungry and greedy.

    The one who really believes in his country's direction and who really knows how to do his job (getting confessions and snooping) right is Captain Gerd Wiesler (code name: HGW XX/7), who was classmates with Lt. Colonel Grubitz and now his subordinate.

    With an old classmate in a high place, Captain Wiesler should have no trouble moving up the career ladder into a cushy position and comfortable retirement. A chance assignment to monitor his country's best play write and his living actress girl friend changed Captain Wiesler and those he monitored lives forever.

    Many people had summarized the plot so I won't repeat here. I just want to say that I was shouting with joy when I saw the first of the 3 epilogues. When Captain Wiesler was demoted by Lt. Colonel Grubitz to a basement room to steam-open letters (to check for content), Grubitz screamed at him "Do you know how long you'd be steaming letters? 20 YEARS!!!!". People in government jobs who are out of favor, who had done something wrong, or who were not aligned with rising stars know this fate intimately. That's why it's such a joy to see Wiesler out of steaming letters after less than 5 years at it.

    Yes, Captain Wiesler did pay for not "doing his job right", even after the fall of East Germany. He had to make do by working as a mailman. I can't help but to feel a rush of tears to my eyes and warmth in my heart seeing the last scene when he said to the bookstore clerk that the book "Sonata for a Good Man" he was about to pay for was "for him". There's barely a hint of smile lurking in the corner of his mouth when the frame stopped. That was a priceless last scene to a well-written, well-acted, and well-edited film, one of the best I've seem in the past 5 years.
    ...more info
  • Somewhere, somehow, someone.....
    In a heartless time under a heartless regime, somehow, someone found a heart, and faced with a dilemma made a decision, that would impact the Lives of Others.

    It is a rare sign only seen in the best movies, and masterful how this movie builds up, and unwinds, and unwinds even more just as you think its already completely unwound.

    This story is as intricate as the inner working of a watch, make the slightest wrong adjustment and....

    So Ulrich Muhe gives an excellent performance as does Sebastian Koch as Dreyman. Apparently, Muhe was bugged himself when he live in East Germany, and his ex wife sued him for mentioning this in a radio interview.

    Lives of Others won Best Foreign Language movie at the Oscars. After watching the movie, I watched some of the earlier scenes over. At around 8 minutes you see the actresses proclamation on stage, and the words she said set up two later scenes. See if you can figure it out.

    If you're like me, and you love this movie, you will most probably also like Blackbook, also starring Sebastian Koch as the male lead. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, of Basic Instinct and Total Recall fame. One of the few movies I have bought in addition to watching.

    I hope you find this review helpful, and, if you do, please click yes.

    ...more info
  • Stasi Life
    'The Lives of Others' deserved its foreign-language Oscar.
    The acting and plot were well integrated, and the overall
    theme of the violation of privacy was gripping. The writer-
    director's commentary on the DVD was engrossing. ...more info
  • humanity overcomes a evil system
    This movie is just fantastic. And on blu ray it shines and delivers
    it's timeless story with even more clarity. The communist system with it's intolerance and inhumanity even in regards to the most minute aspect of peoples lives is depicted here with a knowing production. Each actor protrays their character in a light of reality and highly perfected skill.
    The story is about a man whose whole life is based around violating others rights and hunting down enemies of the state with precision and robot like slavish duty. The secret police or stasi by 1984 was not the murder machine it was in previous decades yet it still killed the souls of it people and the robot like watcher only becomes a good man after he
    spies on his intended targets. This movie won awards and delivers solid
    drama and an very important story for the ages. The details need to be seen by the viewer but over 200 people took the time to write about how much they loved this movie and if you love solid dramas then this is the one for you. ...more info
  • Movie: 4.5/5 Picture Quality: 3.75~4.75/5 Sound Quality: 4/5 Extras: 2.25/5
    Title: The Lives of Others
    Version: U.S.A / Sony Pictures / Region-A
    Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
    MPEG-4 AVC BD-50
    Running time: 2:17:36
    Movie size: 36,23 GB
    Disc size: 40,97 GB
    Total bit rate: 35.10 Mbps
    Average video bit rate: 27.84 Mbps

    LPCM 5.1 4608Kbps 16-bit German
    DD AC3 5.1 640Kbps German

    Subtitles: English / English SDH / Spanish / French

    #Director Commentary
    Interview with the Director (30 mins - SD)
    The Making of The Lives of Others (20 mins - SD)
    #Deleted Scenes (9 mins - SD)
    #Trailers (HD)...more info
  • Superbly-acted, -produced and -directed film!
    What a fantastic, thought-provoking movie this was! I was half expecting it to be dark and gloomy. I mean, the premise of having private citizens' privacy invaded is very dark and frighteningly real in today's world; but I love the way the writers and directors were able to inject some lightness (with the Captain's bedroom habits), irony and a great deal of humanity.

    The ensemble cast members are all fantastic and portrayed their characters with such emotion and sincerity that I couldn't help but be moved. The historical accuracy of the film educated me a lot, since I'm not too familliar with modern German history. Nevertheless, despite the un-Hollywood ending, I like the positive message of the belief that one single person can make a difference in this world. This movie is a must-see!...more info
  • Moving reflection to a time when the world was different
    The Lives of Others is a moving portrayal of the inner conflict of a Stasi (state security) officer, who finds himself pursuing the personal whims of state leaders. Instead of merely standing by as the innocent are taken advantage of, the officer becomes enmeshed in the machinations with an unexpected ending.

    This is an emotionally moving tale, especially in light of the realistic portrayals of life in the "East" in the 1980's, and the profound changes that took place when the wall came down. However, it should not be watched with too critical an eye, as the awakening of the Stasi officer that plays center stage in the plot would only be possible if the officer in question was excessively naive, which in turn would make his advancement to the rank that he portrays in the film unlikely.

    Five stars, two thumbs up. I bought a second copy so that I can share it....more info
  • Historically accurate portrayal of when the world changed.
    From the outset, the film artfully introduces all the characters and their respective roles in this story about five people during and after the fall of communism in the GDR. It follows them in their daily lives as the protagonist changes his political perspective subsequent to his experiencing personally the effect of a totalitarian state on his friends, one being his intended wife. As he changes, another character changes similarly, though motivated by exercising, instead of experiencing, that same totalitarianism. The ending, though arriving after a sad event, is satisfying and uplifting as it presents the goodness of people when they are free to demonstrate that human trait. I suggest seeing it twice because there is some subtleness one might miss in the last third of the film.

    I have some friends who came of age in the GDR during the time depicted in the film. They had described to me events very similar to those depicted before I saw the movie, so I felt as though I was seeing their personal stories.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • Das Leben der Anderer, one of the best movies I've seen in ages, I still can't get it out of my head....
    Other reviewers did a great job of telling the story of this fabulous work; simply an East German Stasi officer (Ulrich Muhe) goes through awakening and transformation while spying on a successful author (Sebastian Koch) and his actress/girlfriend (Martina Gedack).
    I don't have much to enhance the retelling of the story. I found out by reading other reviews that Florien Hinkle von Donnersmarck is a first time director, which added to my fascination with this collectively successful work.

    Aside from the magnificent performance by Ulrich Muhe, whose death is a big loss to cinema every where, I could not help but notice the smart selection of actors. Koch and Gedack are both attractive people who actually know how to act, which is a real change from the usual Hollywood package of beauty and scant talent. Cars, furniture, interrogation room and even monitoring equipment comfortably belonged to the era of the movie (5 years before the fall of Berlin Wall). I was amazed how similar the electrical wiring of the door bells to those in other parts of the world were totalitarian governments ruled.

    Other reviewers understandably noted some unrealistic points, for instance, if Weisler/Ulrich Muhe was such a good person, he would not be a Stasi officer to start with, or how impossible it is to get away with what he did under such an oppressive regimen. I, on the other hand, think it is very understandable for somebody experienced with the system to know how to clean up after him self. The character, also, showed a loyal honest belief in the system that he swore to protect in addition to his strict and semi/robotic professionalism. Weisler's transformation did not materialize out of no where; he unlike his school friend/boss chose to be an educator(or so he thought) in the Stasi academy, He was opposed to spying on people for reasons other than protecting the system, and he also longed for love and passion (even with a prostitute). Weisler simply is every person, with good and bad qualities, who has the courage to question himself and make choices. In reality, similar totalitarian governments would not even try to dig for evidence against Dreyman, they could simply have him vanish, without explanation, to some prisons (hint, hint).

    Irrespective of the director and writer's vision, I'm still saddened by how similar governments around the world pilfer good ideas and transform them into their own corrupt systems. Stasi was the East German name of a sick system that has different names in different parts of our world. If only Marx knew how his ideas would be used to help one group enslave another. If only we all understood that books and religions can be used to enslave us as well as free us.

    I'm amazed by this movie, what adds to my amazement is how much this master piece has been understood and appreciated by so many people. It seems like there is still hope; I'm grateful I was introduced to this movie.

    ...more info