The Lives of Others (2006) Poster


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  • Das Leben der Anderen [English: The Lives of Others] is based on a screenplay written by German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Edit

  • This riddle joke is in German and could not possibly be translated into another language properly. Grubits asks about the difference between Erich Honnecker (the leader of East Germany) and a busy telephone line. The answer is really nothing says Grubitz, and tells the punchline "Aufhängen, neu wählen". This can mean two things. When talking about phone calls, it means "hang up and dial again", but in politics it means "hang him (i e kill him) and go to new elections". Edit

  • Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) was using a rare untraceable typewriter that happened to have only a red ribbon in it. When Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) moved the typewriter, he must have touched the red ribbon and gotten red on his finger/thumb. The red color then got transferred to the document that Dreyman saw. It was probably at that moment that Dreyman realized where the red smudge came from and that it was Wiesler who actually moved the typewriter and saved him. This also happens earlier when Dreyman types up his article about suicide—his own fingers smudge the typescript that he hands over. Edit

  • The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) started awarding foreign language films in 1983, when Christ Stopped at Eboli beat out Diva, Das Boot, and Fitzcarraldo. Since then, out of 32, only seven films have won both: Babette's Feast (1987, Denmark), Cinema Paradiso (1989, Italy), All About My Mother (1999, Spain), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, China), Amour (2013, France), Ida (2014, Poland), and of course, The Lives of Others (2006, Germany). Note that sometimes the years don't match, as they are based on when they were released in the country of that award, not the official film's release date. Edit



The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • Near the end of the movie, Grubitz tells Wiesler that his career is over and that he'll spend the next twenty years steam-opening letters in some cellar.

    Grubitz is a sharp man and understands that Wiesler is simply too capable an officer to have botched the surveillance job on Dreyman in good faith, and therefore must have sabotaged it intentionally.

    Officially accusing Wiesler of treason would be problematic though. First, Grubitz believes that Wiesler is too experienced to have left any clue (although ironically he is wrong about that, see the red thumb print which eventually leads Dreyman to the truth).

    Second, Grubitz himself is the man who highly recommended Wiesler to Minister Hempf for the job; finding out Wiesler was disloyal would put Grubitz in a difficult situation.

    Therefore, since Grubitz cannot prove anything against Wiesler (an officer with an impeccable record) and doesn't have any interest in attracting attention to the situation, he punishes him in an unofficial way by quietly demoting him.

    Note that when Grubitz bitterly remarks "Twenty years, that's a long time", it has a double significance. On one hand, it refers to the time Wiesler will have to face before retirement. On the other, it alludes to the former friendship between Grubitz and Wiesler, who, as learnt earlier in the movie, have known each other for twenty years. Edit

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