The Lives of Others
Spring 2007 Main series
Sunday, May 27, 2007 at 4:00pm
Sunday, May 27, 2007 at 7:00pm
Monday, May 28, 2007 at 7:00pm
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Starring Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme, Hans Uwe Bauer, Volkmar Kleinert, Mathias Brenner
Rated 14A ·
The Lives of Others swept the 2006 German Film Awards, winning seven prizes, including Best Feature Film, Best Direction, Best Actor and Best Cinematography. A Special Presentation at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, the feature debut from newcomer Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is a beautifully written and exceptionally staged recreation of the nightmare years of the German Democratic Republic. A far cry from the wistful look back at the former East Germany that defined the popular Good Bye, Lenin!, Henckel von Donnersmarck determinedly focuses upon the venality of a regime that wrapped itself in the rhetoric of a worker’s paradise while building a living hell and waging a cold war on its citizens.
It is 1984. Glasnost is a million miles away and a government minister with a wandering eye, used to exploiting his position to eliminate rivals in politics or love, takes a fancy to Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck, Mostly Martha), a beautiful, popular and very attractive actress. She is living with one of the country’s most popular–and loyal–playwrights, Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch, Zwartboek), who has connections in the government and is feted as a cultural superstar. However, the couple’s apparently safe little world turns upside down when the grim and expressionless Stasi agent Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe, Amen)–who believes no one is ever truly innocent of anything–is sent to spy on them.
The Lives of Others presents a blistering indictment of the former East Germany’s Kafkaesque regime, while retaining a human portrait of its protagonists. Mühe is truly brilliant as Wiesler, the man with the headphones, a faithful cog in the machine who nonetheless proves to be more complex than we expect. Here, nothing is as simple as it seems. With a knowing nod to Coppola’s brilliant The Conversation, Henckel von Donnersmarck has made one of the most powerful films to emerge from Germany in a decade.