User Score
9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 220 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 7 out of 220

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  1. Sep 14, 2011
    10
    Very thrilling and exciting movie, the whole time I was stuck to the screen, because i was really interested in the concept of the film. It wasn't like that usual stalker movie that you watch, there's much more to it, then just that, and that made the film stand out. It was just perfect.
  2. Oct 19, 2012
    10
    powerful, thought provoking film where it questions your duty towards your country [ however oppressive that is]. The best german movie so far in my viewing.
  3. Jan 27, 2012
    10
    The Lives of Others is a movie about the German Stasi - essentially the secret police. The main idea of the movie was the Stasi monitoring a man named Georg Dreyman. In some parts of the movie it can be a little sad or dark, but in the end, it has a very touching message. It shows, through a man named Weisler, that mankind can have good in them as well as bad. He helped Dreyman, an innocent man, escape the punishment of the Stasi. Even though he wound up risking and ruining his career, Weisler still saved Dreyman multiple times without even Dreyman knowing it. That is something that can be hard to grasp because most people are unwilling to help someone to that extent when they themselve lose more than they gain. It actually goes against our normal instinct as human being. As well as being an uplifting an somewhat emotional movie, there are many, many, many deeper psychological aspecs to it. Overall, a great movie! Expand
  4. Jan 23, 2013
    10
    Similar to the communist witch hunts that alarmed American's in the 1950's, "The Lives Of Others" offers a riveting view of life behind the Berlin Wall. It's 1984 in East Berlin and Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) is a secret agent of the Stasi, who investigate people who are suspected of undermining government authority. But his newest subject has an unanticipated effect on the Captain. He sits in an attic day after day, night after night, spying on the people in the flat below.
    The flat is occupied by a playwright named Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his mistress, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck). Wiesle first saw Dreyman at the opening of one of his plays, where he was informed by a colleague that Dreyman was a successful man. Dreyman is good-looking, successful, with a beautiful lover; he must be getting away with something. Driven by suspicion, or perhaps by envy, Wiesler has Dreyman's flat wired and begins an official eavesdropping inquiry. Though von Donnersmarck accords Dreyman and Crista a fair amount of screen time, their roles are to act as catalysts. This is Wiesler's story and, although there are moments of tragedy, it's ultimately one of redemption. Wiesler is a fascinating character in that he is a blank slate if you will, trained by his life to reflect no emotion. Sometimes not even his eyes move. As played in Muehe's performance of infinite subtlety, he watches Dreyman as a cat awaits a mouse. And he begins to internalize their lives, because he has no life of his own; no lover, no hobbies, no distraction from his single-minded job. Wiesler has no one he can really talk to. His gradual transition from loyal soldier to actual human being is what's most compelling throughout. The seduction depicted in "The Lives of Others" is inadvertent. Wiesler is enticed by the possibility of art, meaning, and love, all of which are absent from his existence, but present in that of Dreyman and Crista. Wiesler lives in a bare apartment, with nothing to distinguish it from a hotel room and, when he desires company, he calls a prostitute. By listening to Dreyman and Crista, he discovers the potential of a more fulfilling existence. Eventually, his desire to be part of something meaningful leads him to act to protect the couple, even though his actions violate the law and place his career in jeopardy. Gripping and arresting drama from first time director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is masterfully executed. Ulrich Muhe gives a phenomenal performance, a film that will stand the test of time. Oscar winner as Best Foreign Language Film.
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  5. Jun 2, 2013
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. One of the best films I've ever seen. A brilliant story about an East German secret policeman who gets transformed by "The Lives of Others" he is supposed to be monitoring, and in the end he gives up his career in an attempt to spare them from their inevitable fate. I went into this film not knowing anything about it. What I found was a truly remarkable and touching story. Ulrich Muhe as Wiesler and Sebastian Koch as Dreyman stand out as part of the brilliant cast. A superb masterpiece! Expand
  6. Jul 5, 2013
    9
    It's a world you've probably heard about, but never actually realised existed. It's real people surviving in such a world. The acting is superb especially the main character (this is where Oscars should be going to).
    PS I don't speak a word of german, but that did not get in the way of my enjoying this film. One of the best films in a while? Probably. Definitely worth seeing.
  7. Dec 10, 2010
    10
    Not only is this film well written with fantastic performances, but it accurate and a great portrayal of the events following the post WWII occupation of germany.
  8. Aug 14, 2014
    9
    This is certainly a great film. Ulrich Muhe (RIP) is splendid in the lead role and really kills it. The suspense and thrills of the spy genre are also here and in full force. This one manages to keep you on the edge of your seat without multiple action sequences and shootouts. It is a film built on tension and shows you how to create it without those scenes. As such, the direction from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is great, as is the script from him. Both his direction and the writing are top-notch. As with all foreign films, the fact that is in another language can be a barrier of entry for some, but for me, this one felt like it was in English. I barely even noticed they were speaking German I was so engrossed in the story. In addition, the ending is fantastic and really brings everything to a wrap nicely. As a whole, this one is deserving of the praise it has received and stands as one of the best spy films of the past 10 years. Expand
  9. Feb 28, 2014
    10
    One of the best powerful and in the same time quiet movies I've ever seen. It's wonderful how the film is surrounded by the analogy between the hidden desires and the secret police that controlled everything in the communist bloc. Did the captain want to hide his feelings under those excruciating interrogatories when he was capable of annihilate on the mental health of the suspect, or he became like that in a slow process of finding the true virtues of humanity? I think this is the main question the director asks himself, should we create our new beginning? Expand
Metascore
89

Universal acclaim - based on 39 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 38 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Reviewed by: Eric Hansen
    80
    Starts out dark and challenging then comes to a startlingly satisfying and warmly human conclusion that lingers long after the curtain has come down.
  2. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    Superbly cast drama… that looks to be a solid upscale attraction wherever the special chemistry of good writing and performances is appreciated.
  3. 50
    The Lives of Others wants us to see that the Stasi -- at least some of them -- were, like their Gestapo brethren, “just following orders." You can call that naive optimism on Donnersmarck's part, or historical revisionism of the sort duly lambasted by the current film version of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys." I, for one, tremble at the thought of what this young director does for an encore.