This is a moral tale that could only be told in the context of the GDR. A loyal member of the Stasi is given the task of bugging the home of an influential playwright and he spends countless hours listening in on The Lives of Others. In what would have been a very uncommon occurrence this loyal comrade sees another side of the nation he lives in. It is a place full of corrupt officials, double crossing girlfriends, repression, little free speech, and above all suicides.
In an act that proves detrimental to his own career and even his way of life, Wiesler caves to his emotions to do what is ultimately good and right. After the wall crumbles he and others like him seemingly fade into oblivion. However, the one man who was unknowingly saved finally learns of his savior and resolves to write his next great work. The Sonata for a Good Man.
I think there is certainly a universal quality to this film because although it is German language and focuses on a subject that is distinctly German, the quality of the characters translates into any language because they are human. The struggle of Wiesler is the same for many of us and we can empathize with his evolution and ultimate resolve. We can only hope that people are not put in these same positions in the future and we must also constantly question our own government so they are never reach this degree.