The Reader (2008)

How far would you go to protect a secret?

Plot outline

Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

Personal notes

321

Plots

Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial. - Anonymous

THE READER opens in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg becomes ill and is helped home by Hanna, a stranger twice his age. Michael recovers from scarlet fever and seeks out Hanna to thank her. The two are quickly drawn into a passionate but secretive affair. Michael discovers that Hanna loves being read to and their physical relationship deepens. Hanna is enthralled as Michael reads to her from "The Odyssey," "Huck Finn" and "The Lady with the Little Dog." Despite their intense bond, Hanna mysteriously disappears one day and Michael is left confused and heartbroken. Eight years later, while Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials, he is stunned to find Hanna back in his life - this time as a defendant in the courtroom. As Hanna's past is revealed, Michael uncovers a deep secret that will impact both of their lives. THE READER is a story about truth and reconciliation, about how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. - The Weinstein Company

In 1995, a German man reminisces about a relationship he had, as a teenager, in 1958 with an older woman. He also remembers what happened subsequent to that, including her standing trial for war crimes committed during World War 2, and the secret which denied her justice. - grantss

On a rainy day in late-1950s Neustadt in West Germany, a shivering 15-year-old tram passenger, Michael Berg, chances upon the stern tram conductor and a woman six years more than twice his age, Hanna Schmitz. A few months later, a fragrant bouquet of flowers and an inadvertent glimpse of Hanna's silken undergarments will prepare the ground for an unexpected and passionate summer-long love affair, accompanied by the life-changing ritual of having Michael narrate the classics to her. However, as their secret liaison mysteriously ends, the clandestine couple will meet again many years later, in 1966, when a now law student Michael sees a grizzled Hanna again, along with a group of Nazi SS prison guards while attending a war crimes trial. But, how can this be true, and above all, how can Michael come to terms with a dark past and an entire country's shame and guilt? - Nick Riganas

Middle aged German barrister Michael Berg recollects to himself his lifelong acquaintance with Hanna Schmitz, a relationship with whom he never disclosed to anyone close to him. Michael first met Hanna in 1958, when he was fifteen, she thirty-six. The two had a turbulent summer long love affair, dictated by Hanna that their encounters would begin with him reading to her followed by lovemaking. Michael next encountered Hanna in 1966, when Michael, now a law student, attended the Nazi war crimes trial of six female former S.S. concentration camp guards, one of whom is Hanna. Through listening to the testimony, Michael comes to the realization that he is in possession of information which could save Hanna from a life in prison, information which she herself is unwilling to disclose. In deciding what to do, Michael is torn between his differing views of justice. - Huggo