SONY has released the 2006 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film, "THE LIVES OF OTHERS" on dvd and blu-ray. It was a great year for foreign films and it's really hard to choose which was better, "AFTER THE WEDDING," "PAN'S LABYRINTH," and "THE LIVES OF OTHERS." All are excellent, all are quite different, and all are now available(at least on dvd).
Set several years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, "THE LIVES OF OTHERS" focuses on the incredible chain of events that follow when the "Minister of Culture" lusts after the beautiful actress/girlfriend of a well known, seemingly pro-socialist playwright, and orders round the clock bugging and surveillance. The head of surveillance for the operation, working for the Stasi police, upon baring witness to the conversations of the artistic community, passion, love and more, begins to realize what freedom means. A complicated, nail-biting, narrative ensues and never lets up all the way to the powerful conclusion.
SONY has provided a 1080p transfer with the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio intact. The dvd offers the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Both transfers are good. However, the blu-ray offers noticeably better detail and less grain every scene. Colors are intentionally subdued on both transfers, creating a more gripping, gritty atmosphere. The blu-ray offers deeper blacks and grays. Fleshtones are natural in both transfers.
SONY has provided a PCM 5.1 mix for the blu-ray and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the dvd. The mix is extremely effective in its natural atmosphere, without the need to become aggressive. Subtle effects enhance the intensity that builds to various crescendos within the story's masterful arcs. The PCM 5.1 mix offers better dynamic range. Bass effects are deeper on the blu-ray as well. Dialogue is perfectly balanced on both formats.
SONY has provided some great extras here. The commentary with the film's writer/director is one of the best released this year. It's insightful, entertaining, and never dull.
Deleted scenes are also included with optional commentary, an interview and a featurette.