The Lives of Others (2006) has been a phenomenally successful film, winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Feature in 2007. Yet despite the critical acclaim it has received abroad, in Germany reactions have been more mixed. Many commentators, especially historians, have been at pains to point out that the transformation of the Stasi officer into the guardian angel of his target is wholly unrealistic in the context of the GDR. However, many of the same critics also concede that the film is a very effective film. It is this paradox that the present article will examine. Hitherto, very few, if any, examinations of the film have ever looked at its construction and impact as film. We will explore the way that the generic conventions of melodrama have been adapted to create what we might call an authenticity of affect, which actually enhances the film’s treatment of injustice and redemption.