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parrot_knight [userpic]

The Lives of Others/Das Leben der Anderen

April 21st, 2007 (11:18 am)

The Lives of Others, written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is the best film I've seen in a long time. Less cloyingly manipulative than The Queen (for all the power of the latter), it draws from a wider palette of emotional tones to leave me with the impression (of course, illusory) that I really know what it's like to have lived in the Stasi-ridden German Democratic Republic in the 1980s. The heroism of the three main characters is drawn from the business of holding on to principles when the state defines what ideals its citizens should hold and when those in power can hide behind the pursuit of those ideals to get what they want; and also that living under a totalitarian government is just that - living, with highs and well as lows. There is farce among the need for conspiracy, and nobility in the unimaginative bureaucratic devotion to an ideal that characterises the Stasi captain Wiesler, played by Ulrich Muehe with consistent outward self-control. The film's treatment of Christa-Maria Sieland, played by Martina Gedeck, could be viewed as a comment on gender relations in a society where all politics, including the sexual, have been monopolised by the party; both Wiesler and Christa-Maria's lover, playwright Georg Dreymann, played by Sebastian Koch, are in their way innocent idealists in an environment that is far more aggressively careerist than it pretends to be.


Posted by: The Two Trees (arda_unmarred)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)

Where did you manage to see it? I've been wanting to see that movie for months.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)

It's on at the Phoenix in Oxford at the moment.

Posted by: Gramarye (gramarye1971)
Posted at: April 21st, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC)

Ooh, wow. That sounds like a fascinating film. It looks to be playing at my local art-house cinema, so I'll have to look into going.

(Also, your icon reminds me that I don't have a good GDR or USSR icon. *makes note to rectify this*)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)

There's much more to it than my oblique comments suggest - the relationship between Wielser and his former classmate, now boss, Gruebitz, is full of tension based on a sense of injustice Wiesler gradually realises, but copes with in a practical way. There is a scene involving a Stasi second lieutenant and a joke about Erich Honecker that seems to have no consequences, but which is picked up to form a sub-sub-plot much later.