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The Lives of Others (German: Das Leben der Anderen) is a 2006 German drama film, marking the feature film debut of filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, about the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police. It stars Ulrich Mühe as Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his boss Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck as Dreyman's lover, a prominent actress named Christa-Maria Sieland.

The film was released in Germany on 23 March 2006. At the same time, the screenplay was published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The Lives of Others won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film had earlier won seven Deutscher Filmpreis awards—including those for best film, best director, best screenplay, best actor, and best supporting actor—after setting a new record with 11 nominations. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 64th Golden Globe Awards. The Lives of Others cost US$2 million[3] and grossed more than US$77 million worldwide as of November 2007.

In 1984 East Germany, Stasi officer Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is assigned to spy on playwright Georg Dreyman. Wiesler and his team bug the apartment, set up surveillance equipment in an attic and begin reporting Dreyman's activities. Dreyman had escaped state scrutiny due to his pro-Communist views and international recognition. Wiesler learns the real reason behind the surveillance: Minister of Culture Bruno Hempf covets Dreyman's girlfriend, actress Christa-Maria Sieland, and is trying to eliminate his rival. While Grubitz (Wiesler's boss) sees an opportunity for advancement, Wiesler (an idealist) is horrified. Through his surveillance, he knows Dreyman and Sieland are in love. Hempf uses Sieland's prescription-drug addiction to coerce her. After discovering Sieland's relationship with Hempf, Dreyman implores her not to meet him again. Sieland refuses, fleeing to a nearby bar where Wiesler (posing as a fan) reminds her of her talent; she returns home.

A Communist, Dreyman becomes disillusioned with the treatment of his colleagues by the state. At his birthday party, his friend Albert Jerska (a blacklisted theatrical director) gives him sheet music for Sonate vom Guten Menschen (Sonata For a Good Man). Shortly afterwards, Jerska hangs himself; Wiesler is moved by the tragedy. Dreyman decides to publish an anonymous article on the East German suicide rate in Der Spiegel. No suicide rates in the GDR have been published since 1977 (that year, East Germany was second in European suicides only to Hungary). Since all East German typewriters are registered, Dreyman uses a smuggled miniature typewriter which he hides. Before talking openly in his apartment, Dreyman and his friends test whether the flat is bugged by feigning an attempt to smuggle one of their blacklisted friends through the Berlin Wall. Wiesler does not alert the police, and the conspirators believe they are safe.

Dreyman's article is published, enraging the authorities. From an agent at Der Spiegel, the Stasi obtain a copy of the manuscript (typed on a red ribbon). Hempf, livid at being jilted by Sieland, orders Grubitz to destroy her. Sieland is arrested when she tries to buy drugs at her dentist's office, and blackmailed into revealing Dreyman's authorship of the article. When the Stasi search his apartment, however, they do not find the typewriter. Grubitz then orders Wiesler to interrogate Sieland again, warning that failure will cost them both. Sieland recognizes Wiesler as the man from the bar, and tells him where the typewriter is hidden.

Grubitz and the Stasi return to Dreyman's apartment, but the typewriter is gone; Wiesler had already seized the evidence. When she sees Dreyman's face as he realizes she informed on him, a guilt-stricken Sieland runs into the street and stops in front of an oncoming truck. Wiesler reaches the dying Sieland first, beginning to tell her about the typewriter before an inconsolable Dreyman cradles her in his arms. Grubitz informs Dreyman that the investigation is over, and tells Wiesler his career is over as well. As he leaves, Grubitz discards a newspaper announcing Mikhail Gorbachev as the new leader of the Soviet Union.

In November 1989, Wiesler is steaming open letters in a windowless office when a co-worker (also banished by Grubitz earlier in the film) tells him about the fall of the Berlin Wall; Wiesler and his co-workers silently get up and leave their office. Two years later, Hempf and Dreyman have a chance encounter; Dreyman asks Hempf why he was never under surveillance, and Hempf tells him he was monitored. After uncovering surveillance equipment in his apartment, Dreyman goes to the Stasi Archives to read the files on his activities. He reads that Sieland was released just before the second search, and could not have removed the typewriter. Seeing a fingerprint in red ink on the final typewritten report, he realizes that Stasi agent HGW XX/7 had concealed Dreyman's authorship of the suicide article and removed the typewriter before the search team arrived. Dreyman finds Wiesler delivering mail; he momentarily considers approaching him, but decides against it.

On his rounds two years later, Wiesler passes a bookstore window display promoting Dreyman's new novel, Sonate vom Guten Menschen. He goes inside, opens a copy of the book and discovers it is dedicated "To HGW XX/7, with gratitude". Wiesler buys the book; when the sales clerk asks if he wants it gift-wrapped he responds, "No, it's for me."

Posted by George Freund on July 21, 2013 at 8:20 AM 4338 Views