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The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) - action/adventure DVD review
rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 5 stars
Actors: Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck   Studio: Sony Pictures
DVD release: 21 August 2007   Runtime: 138 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (German, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound), Deleted Scenes, Deleted Scenes optional commentary, Interview with Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Making Of THE LIVES OF OTHERS

Winner of the 2006 Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) is set in 1984 Berlin. The State Security, or Staatssicherheit, of the GDR is closely monitoring writers and intellectuals. Among them is playright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch).

The job of of spying on Dreyman is assigned to a captain of the Stassi, Gerd Weisler (Ulrich Mühe). Wesler and his team keep Dreyman under constant surveillance by bugging his apartment and phone. Their aim: to find a chink in the armor of the GDR's "only non subversive writer." Month after month, Weisler eavesdrops on the life of this playwright and his girlfriend and leading lady, Christa Marie Sieland (Martina Gedeck).

Unbeknownst to himself, he also undergoes a gradual transformation that begins when he steals Dreyman's Brecht and reads it. Through the headphones, he also listens to Dreyman playing the piano and is moved when, upon hearing of the suicide of a dissident writer friend, Dreyman plays the "Sonata For a Good Man." As the playwright softly mouths Lenin's dichotomy - how listeners of such music could ever be cruel revolutionaries - Weisler is converted. He begins to see the machinations of the state apparatus, especially those of Minister Hempf, who routinely fumbles and feels Christa Marie in the backseat of his limousine and has a special interest in seeing Dreyman's fall from grace.

Weisler begins to lie to protect Dreyman. Eventually things take a drastic turn, and Dreyman is exposed from other quarters. Weisler must now protect him at great personal risk. Years later, after the fall of the Berlin wall, Dreyman learns the truth. The film's ending, with its unspoken recognition and reconcilation between these two characters, is indeed a treat to watch.
reviewed by Shampa Chatterjee
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