The Lives of Others The Lives of Others
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The Lives of Others

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 residents by agents of the Stasi , the GDR 's secret police. It stars Ulrich Mühe as Stasi Captain Gerd Wiesler, Ulrich Tukur as his superior Anton Grubitz, Sebastian Koch as the playwright Georg Dreyman, and Martina Gedeck as Dreyman's lover, a prominent actress named Christa-Maria Sieland.

.The Lives of Otherswon 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 Otherscost US$2 millionand grossed more than US$77 million worldwide as of November 2007.

Berlin Wall marking the end of the East German socialist state, it was the first notable drama film about the subject after a series of comedies such asGoodbye, Lenin!andSonnenallee. This approach was widely applauded in Germany even as some criticized the humanization of Wiesler's character. Many former East Germans were stunned by the factual accuracy of the film's set and atmosphere, accurately portraying a state which merged with West Germany and ceased to exist 16 years prior to the release. The film's authenticity was considered notable, given that the director grew up outside of East Germany and was only sixteen when the Berlin Wall fell.

In 1984 East Germany , legendary Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler ( Ulrich Mühe ), code name HGW XX/7, accepts an assignment from his superiors to spy on the playwright Georg Dreyman ( Sebastian Koch ), who has previously escaped state scrutiny due to his pro-Communist views and international recognition. Wiesler and his team bug the apartment, set up surveillance equipment in an attic, and begin reporting Dreyman's activities. Shortly after his surveillance begins, Wiesler learns the real reason for why Dreyman has been put under surveillance: the Minister of Culture, Bruno Hempf ( Thomas Thieme ) covets Dreyman's girlfriend, actress Christa-Maria Sieland ( Martina Gedeck ), and is trying to eliminate Dreyman as a romantic rival. While Wiesler's superior, Lt. Col. Anton Grubitz ( Ulrich Tukur ), sees no problem with this, as it is an opportunity for advancement, the idealist Wiesler is skeptical. Minister Hempf coerces Sieland into having sex with him by exploiting her reliance on the state for employment as an actress and her addiction to prescription medication. After an intervention by Wiesler leads to Dreyman discovering Sieland's relationship with Hempf, he implores her not to meet him again. Sieland flees to a nearby bar where Wiesler, posing as a fan, urges her to be true to herself. She returns home and reconciles with Dreyman, rejecting Hempf.

Though a communist and supporter of the regime , 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 forSonate vom Guten Menschen(Sonata for a Good Man). Shortly afterwards, Jerska hangs himself. Dreyman decides to publish an anonymous article on the East German suicide rate inDer Spiegel, a prominent West German newsweekly. Dreyman's article accuses the state of callously ignoring those who commit suicide. Since all East German typewriters are registered, an editor ofDer Spiegelsmuggles Dreyman a miniature typewriter with a red ribbon. Dreyman hides the typewriter under a false floorboard of his apartment, but is seen one afternoon by Sieland hiding it there as she returns to the apartment. When Dreyman and his friends feign a defection attempt to determine whether his flat is bugged, Wiesler, who has become sympathetic to Dreyman and disillusioned with the GDR and the Stasi, does not alert the border guards, and the conspirators believe they are safe. He also decides against informing his boss of Dreyman's article and instead requests that surveillance be scaled back to eliminate his subordinate.

A few days later, Dreyman's article is published, angering the East German authorities. The Stasi obtains a copy of the suicide article, typewritten in red ink, but they are unable to link it to any typewriter legally registered in the GDR. Livid at being jilted by Sieland, Hempf orders Grubitz to arrest her, informing him where she illegally buys her prescription drugs. She is blackmailed into revealing Dreyman's authorship of the article and becoming an informant. When the Stasi search his apartment, however, they cannot find the typewriter. Dreyman and his friends conclude that Sieland could not have informed because she would have given away the location of the hidden typewriter. Grubitz, suspicious that Wiesler has mentioned nothing unusual in his daily reports of the monitoring, gives Wiesler "one more chance" and orders him to do the follow-up interrogation of Sieland. Wiesler resumes his role as Stasi interrogator and forces Sieland to tell him exactly where the typewriter is hidden.

Grubitz and the Stasi return to Dreyman's apartment. Sieland panics when she realizes that Dreyman will know she betrayed him and flees the apartment. When Grubitz removes the floor, however, the typewriter is gone— Wiesler having removed it before the search team got there. Unaware of this, Sieland runs to the street and commits suicide by stepping into the path of an oncoming truck. Grubitz offers a perfunctory claim of sympathy and informs Dreyman that the investigation is over. Wiesler drives Grubitz back to the Stasi and is told that his career is over, and that his remaining 20 years with the agency will be in Department M, a dead-end position for disgraced agents. As he leaves, Grubitz discards a newspaper announcing Mikhail Gorbachev as the new leader of the Soviet Union .

Four years later, on November 9, 1989, Wiesler is steam-opening letters in the cramped, windowless office of Department M when a co-worker tells him about the fall of the Berlin Wall . Realizing that this will mean the end of the GDR and the Stasi, Wiesler silently stands and leaves the office, inspiring his co-workers to do the same. Two years later, Hempf and Dreyman have a chance encounter while both are attending a new performance of Dreyman's play. Dreyman asks the former government minister why he had never been monitored. Much to his surprise, Hempf tells him that he had, in fact, been under full surveillance and to "look behind the light switches" for the listening devices that had been installed in 1984. Dreyman searches his apartment, finds the wiring and rips it from the walls in frustration.

At the Stasi Records Agency , Dreyman reviews the files the Stasi kept while he was under surveillance. He reads that Sieland was released just before the second search, and could not have removed the typewriter. As he goes through his files, he is at first confused by the false and contradicting information that has been written about his activities, but when he reaches the final typewritten report, he sees a fingerprint in red ink just under the signature. Dreyman finally realizes that the officer in charge of his surveillance - Stasi agent HGW XX/7 - had knowingly concealed his illegal activities, including his authorship of the suicide article, and that he had been the one who had removed the typewriter from its hidden location. Dreyman searches for Wiesler, who now has a job as a postman, and finds him on his rounds. Unsure of what to say to him, however, he decides not to approach him.

Two years later, Wiesler still has the same job and, whilst on his round, passes a bookstore window display promoting Dreyman's new novel,Sonate vom Guten Menschen. He goes inside and opens a copy of the book, discovering it is dedicated "To HGW XX/7, with gratitude". Deeply moved, Wiesler buys the book. When the sales clerk asks if he wants it gift-wrapped, he responds, "No. This is for me."

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