Set during the last decade of East Germany, it captures the extraordinary lengths to which the government went, to snoop on people who it thought posed a threat to the system. Intellectuals were singularly targeted, and every aspect of their personal lives watched, listened, and scrutinised.
Acclaimed playwright Georg Dreyman is suspected of having political links with critics of the regime, and the Stasi decide to keep an eye on him. At around the same time, the Minister for Culture falls for Georg's partner and actress, Christa-Maria Sieland. He wants Georg to be 'found out' so he can keen Crista-Maria for himself, and asks the Stasi to wire-tap their apartment and listen to their every conversation. Hauptmann is the agent appointed for the job, and he takes up this assignment with customary professional enthusiasm. But the more he watches and listens to them, the more he is fascinated by them, and the more he sympathises with them. On occasions he even goes out of his way to record an alternate version of events in his day book, to protect them. The film follows events until the beginning of unified Germany. Apart from the political intrigue and suspense, there is great human drama in this simple and beautiful film. Ulrich Mühe who plays the Stasi agent Hauptmann gives a powerful performance, as does Martina Gedeck, who portrays Christa-Maria. The strength of the film lie in its screenplay, clear direction, and strong performances. Needless to say, Highly Recommended Viewing..!
The film also depicts some brief but essential sex and nudity, and the compilation below was made from my DVD, which also contained some additional footage among the extras.
- No nudity - Crista-Maria is groped by the Minister for Culture in his limousine. She is to put up with him every Thursday if she is to prevent action on Georg.
- Crista-Maria washing up on her return - Georg had just seen her getting off the minister's car, and is now aware of what's going on.
- Hauptmann reads a report prepared by his assistant while he was away, and is pleased to learn that this time Crista-Maria didn't keep to her Thursday appointment, deciding to stay with Georg instead.
- Crista-Maria lies to Georg after she returns home after two days of captivity, telling him instead that she was away with friends in the countryside where there wasn't a telephone. Just then, The Stasi come knocking at the door.
- Hauptmann with a prostitute at his home - played by the wholesome Gabi Fleming with utterly delightful breasts - she asks him to book for an extra hour next time.
- Some additional footage of the Gabi Fleming scene from a commentary among the DVD extras - it also includes some brief frontal nudity.