REVIEW: FILM – The Lives of Others

Last night I watched a very disturbing, very well made film: Das Leben der Anderen…. The Lives of Others.


The film has a couple scenes that would make it unsuitable for children.  It is rated R.  Also, it is in German with subtitles (the subtitles were not too badly done).

The acting was great.  Ulrich Muhe has got game.  It won a passel of awards.

It concerns government surveillance of normal people.  In the case of this film, the Stasi in East Germany before the fall of the Iron Curtain.  It is appropriately set in 1984.

This movie was unsettling.  As you watch, you know that what the characters were going through could happen again and could happen to us.  It is happening to us in small ways, now.  It could happen to us in spades were the creep we see under this administration to continue.

There are, however, some stirring moments.

Want a very smart, well-acted, thought provoking movie to watch?  Give it a try.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in REVIEWS, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. TomG says:

    Saw this 3 or 4 years ago. Astonishingly good movie. W.F. Buckley after seeing it was said to have remarked that it was the best film he had ever seen. Next to LOTR I might agree with him.

  2. L. says:

    Fr. Z, I agree that it’s a great movie. I saw it several years ago after reading on the National Review web site that William F. Buckley was greatly impressed by it.

  3. Imrahil says:

    The director’s uncle was abbot of Heiligenkreuz for quite a couple of time.

  4. Franklinwasright says:

    This is one of my favorite films, one of only several that have ever made me cry. It also won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

    There is adultery and some graphic sex scenes. If memory serves these scenes are not glamorous, but they do illustrate the degradation individuals suffer under totalitarian regimes, specifically communism. But because of these scenes you should excercise caution.

    I consider it the best anti-authoritarian film I’ve ever seen. But I am also a fan of Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain.

    If you would like insight into the type of leftists we are dealing with today in America, the documentary Weather Underground is a good place to start. It is based on the biography of Bill Ayers, and includes interviews with the original members of the terrorist themselves, including Ayers and his wife Dohrn.

  5. Mike says:

    The New Yorker raved about this film when it won an award at Cannes. My wife and I watched it, and couldn’t stop talking about it for a solid hour after it ended, late in the evening. The one scene that is explicit sexually is easily skipped over–you’ll know it when you see the start of that particular scene.

  6. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    My husband and others know well that as soon as any scene shows signs of featuring graphic sex, or mayhem, or carnage, or anything too intensely creepy or frightening, Marion will hop to her feet and leave the room for awhile. And if anyone in the room thinks that’s a silly thing to do, then my standard reply is “tough toenails”.

  7. Peggy R says:

    I saw this film a few months ago. It was very excellent and chilling. I can’t recall what the sex scenes were frankly, though, as it is a European film, I am sure they were racy.

    Good for you, Marion!

    I need a diversion from the lazy Cardinal team that has come to play and lose the World Series. Sigh. (They are a dual personality team, I concluded back in July.)

  8. italyportugal says:

    I saw this movie a few years ago and thought it was fantastic. Due to the sexual content, it goes on my “watch again but rarely” list, but I had a fantastic discussion with some of my peers who also watched this movie. The sex scenes, implied or otherwise, aren’t “added on” as happens so often in modern movies today, but are used more as major points within the narrative to deliver a more visceral and powerful punch to the message. As for the use of the conjugal act in the visual arts, I lean more toward what Blessed John Paul II wrote in “Love and Responsibility.” Should we be careful? YES. The conjugal act is a sacred act, and as long as that sacredness is acknowledged and upheld in the portrayal, then a careful, discerning, and mature viewer should have no problem. I personally think that this movie does that. I could go into more depth, but that would spoil the movie :)

  9. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Ich habe diesen Film gesehen. Es hat mir gefallen.

  10. Mark H. says:

    “The Lives of Others” is without doubt one of the best movies I have ever seen. More people should be aware of it.

  11. TomG says:

    Too much being made here about the “sex scenes.” For pete’s sake, just don’t look then. The scenes are probably the least gratuitous I have seen in any film. They simply served to illustrate the repression and degradation one suffers in a totalitarian system. Having said that, though, I certainly believe reasonable Christian people can differ on this.

  12. netokor says:

    “Too much being made here about the “sex scenes.” For pete’s sake, just don’t look then.” That’s been the attitude of the secular world as well as that of many priests and religious for the last fifty years. Pornography has become commonplace and easily accessible thanks to this attitude. satan is insiduous and progresses almost imperceptibly. We didn’t get to this cesspool overnight.

    I stay away from TV, and most movies. I don’t need them. Imho no one should let the enemy in through any crack–the fiend is out to get everyone, young and old. Our weapons are modesty, chastity, prayer. Don’t support anyone who uses media to cater to base desires. They work for the enemy, who has convinced us as a society that it’s no big deal: “For pete’s sake, just don’t look then.”

  13. acardnal says:

    I agree with Marion Ancilla Mariae comments.

    This website gives review information of a most TV shows and movies. Here is what they said about the nudity/sex scenes in this movie. Based on below, it appears the scenes gratuitous; they were there to titillate the audience. They could have been omitted and not affected the story at all – which pretty much describes most movies today:

  14. LadyMarchmain says:

    I’m with you, Marion!

    That said, this is one of the greatest films ever made and incredibly important. I would normally be the first to pounce and attack graphic scenes as gratuitous, but in this case it actually isn’t–it is meant to contrast the stark hollow life of one person in the film with the human connectedness of another person in the film. That’s as far as I can go without giving anything away. As everyone says, it’s easy to spot that scene coming and it’s very very brief.

  15. Due to the silliness of some comments, I’ll turn on the moderation queue.

  16. einkleinerknabe says:

    “Nein. Es ist für mich.”

  17. rbyb00 says:

    I believe Ulrich Mühe died of cancer just before the film’s release. A tragedy. His acting in the film was superb.

  18. AgricolaDeHammo says:

    Great film. Saw it a few years ago. I just checked and the whole film has actually been uploaded to youtube. Don’t know how long it will remain there.

    And to those worried about sexual content: this is not hollywood glamorization of sex.
    If it’s still problematic, as Mike said: it’s easily skipped. This is a 2 hour movie and the scenes in question are hardly a minute in length.

  19. Imrahil says:

    I second what the dear @AgricolaDeHammo said.

Comments are closed.