A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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In subtitles: "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
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.
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Parents Need to Know
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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Taut and intelligent, The Lives of Others was the German nominee for 2007's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.