A 1984 East Berlin simple surveillance assignment: Capt. Gerd Wiesler, a Stasi officer and a specialist in surveillance, has been assigned to keep an eye on Georg Dreyman, a respected playwright, and his actress girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland. Though Dreyman is known to associate with blacklisted director Albert Jerska, a known dissident, Dreyman's record is spotless. Wiesler discovers that Minister Hempf has an ulterior motive in spying on this seemingly upright citizen. Wiesler's sympathies shift from the government to its people - or at least to this one particular person.