The Lives of Others

2006 R 2h 18m DVD

The Lives of Others

2006 R 2h 18m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
In 1984, secret police agent Wiesler is assigned to eavesdrop on a successful but possibly disloyal playwright in East Germany. As the lonely Wiesler learns more about the man and his lover, a prominent actress, he becomes fascinated by their lives.
Ulrich Mühe, Martina Gedeck, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Thomas Thieme, Hans-Uwe Bauer, Volkmar Kleinert, Matthias Brenner, Charly Hübner
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
English, French, Spanish (Neutral)
German: Dolby Digital 5.1
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 17+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 17+
age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that even if kids were interested in this subtitled German film, it's not for them. Set in the oppressive world of communist East Germany in the 1980s, it features psychological cruelty (including interrogation tactics like sleep deprivation) and one unexpected, violent death. A character's suicide prompts discussion about the government's efforts to cover up suicide rates in East Germany during the 1980s. There's also some fairly mature sexual material (a couple undresses and kisses in preparation for lovemaking, a man has an interlude with a nude prostitute, a government official crudely gropes a disinterested woman). Characters smoke lots of cigarettes and drink liquor.

Sexual Content

Several scenes show or suggest sexual activity. In the back seat of a car, a man gropes an impassive woman and undoes his fly as the driver watches in the rearview mirror; kissing and embracing between the primary couple; spy overhears a sex scene (viewers see its beginning) and records it in his journal; another somewhat steamy sex scene between primary couple; man hires prostitute (brief scene of their interlude, with her in lingerie); woman naked in shower (viewers see back, profile, breasts). Sex is traded for safety from the secret police/government.


Secret police interrogations lead to torture (cries heard off-screen); discussion of a character's suicide (and suicide in general); a central character is struck by a vehicle (bloody body on street as onlookers show distress).


In subtitles: "s--t."

Social Behavior

The East German government spies on artists and other citizens in order to maintain control; effective interrogation techniques are discussed and praised; corrupt officials abuse their power to get what they want and make others fear them. But the movie also sends the message that the power of art and passion can transform a life.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

One character has an illegal pill addiction; frequent smoking (the movie is set in Europe, and the year is 1984, when smoking was more common); drinking at several parties and in bars.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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