The 2007 Oscar winner in the category of Best Foreign Language Film of the Year has been a 2006 German movie called Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). It's about an agent from the Stasi (the East German secret police agency) who is instructed to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman, a successful writer, and his lover companion, the popular actress Christa-Maria Sieland. During the process, the secret agent becomes more and more interested in their lives and eventually sympathetic to the couple. What would be the consequences of a case like this in a 1984's socialist country and what is the most probable reason for this surveillance is up to you to discover.
What could you expect from Das Leben der Anderen / The Lives of Others? You'll learn a little bit about one of the world's most fearsome secret police machines, the East German's Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, known as the Stasi). You will become aware of some of the instruments Stasi has used. You'll see love, life of dissidents, brief nudity, low moral, a sort of betrayal, character transformation, some small twists and a great ending. The pace of the movie is slow to a certain degree and the movie unfolds tardy at the beginning but it becomes faster towards the ending. Its slow pacing could be intentional though in order to relate with the patient nature of a surveillance job. Anyway, the ending compensates for any slower parts of the movie.
The Lives of Others is directed by a debutant in the field of full length movies, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who although not being exceptional shows an overall good directing. The main characters are played by the actress Martina Gedeck having tough job to accomplish in the role of Christa-Maria Sieland, Ulrich Mühe seeming perfectly suitable for the role of the restrained but not heartless agent Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler and the actor Sebastian Koch nicely portraying the writer and "good citizen" Georg Dreyman. What you see on the screen appears a little bit detached from you but it is still very believable so you know throughout the whole movie it's about something that has really happened and that could happen again.
Apart from its Academy Award and high critical acclaim, Das Leben der Anderen has won about 60 international awards. Whether the movie deserves them is something that everyone has to decide for himself, but in general, the film treats some topics, which should be interesting to almost every person on the Earth. Thus, the movie's mass appeal is pretty much understandable. There are many people that have seen or experienced the life in East Germany or behind the Iron Curtain themselves but for the majority of the audience worldwide the film presents some events they've not even been aware of or at least they've never been real witnesses to. Being due to its subject or not, it's rather good that a non-Hollywood movie has received so much international attention.
If you're interested in the life of socialist country's people before the fall of the Berlin Wall and you haven't seen this film yet, it would be a safe bet to track it down and add it to your collection of movies if you have not a forthcoming chance to watch it on TV or in a cinema theater eventually. It will hardly be the best film you've ever seen but it will enrich your movie experience for sure.