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Lives of Others

~Academy Award ~ Best Foreign Film

"The Lives Of Others" starts out dark and challenging then comes to a startlingly satisfying and warmly human conclusion that lingers long after the curtain has come down. Written and directed by first-timer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the film supplies a precise snapshot of the omnipresent and omni-feared secret service of communist East Germany, the Stasi. Henckel von Donnersmarck’s does an excellent job of portraying the communist state in its ugly, bureaucratic small-mindedness – the Stasi comes across as if it really wanted to be the Gestapo but didn’t have the guts.When high-ranking politician Bruno Hempf (Thieme) casts an eye on celebrated stage actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Gedeck), his Stasi pal Lt. Col. Anton Grubitz (played with characteristic good humor by Tukur) jumps at the chance to make his career by putting her boyfriend, the famous writer Georg Dreyman (Koch), under surveillance with an eye toward getting him out of the way. Grubitz enlists his former classmate, Capt. Gerd Wiesler (played nearly expressionlessly by an excellent Mühe), to find the skeletons in Dreyman’s closet.Capt. Wiesler is a hard-liner who believes eavesdropping on and interrogating his fellow citizens is in the best interests of communism. We soon discover that Wiesler doesn’t have a life of his own, and he gets caught up in the sheer humanity of the lives he is listening to every working hour of the day. Eventually he becomes consumed by their lives, falls in love with the actress and risks his own life to protect them."The Lives Of Others" has stirred up controversy in Germany because Wiesler reverses the neat stereotype of the evil Stasi officer. Since both the former Stasi members and their thousands of victims are still living side by side, that was bound to get emotions going. But it’s precisely by challenging our need for good and bad stereotypes that makes this film ultimately captivating and, with the twists in the end, highly rewarding.Eric Hansen, Hollywood Reporter
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Directed by: 
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Running Time: 
German with English subtitles
Ulrich Tukur, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Mühe, Thomas Thieme
Screenplay by: 
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

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