Apr 6, 2007

The Lives Of Others

The Lives Of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) is a stunning film of great complexity and one that should be a must see for all lovers of cinema. It recently won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and thoroughly deserved that honour. Set in the year 1984 in the former East Germany we are introduced to Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) a seemingly cold blooded Stasi agent who lovingly spies on his fellow countymen for the good of the state. A stoic character, he is instructed to monitor Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), a celebrated writer, who appears to be a loyal state subject. However the Minister of Culture suspects him to be a subversive character and instructs surveillance to begin. It is later revealed that the Minister has other motives for the operation. Dreyman's girlfriend, the actress Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck) also becomes entwined in the intrigue as Wiesler develops a fondness for her which ultimately compromises his position. This film is a beautifully captured slice of history, a time when peoples' rights and freedoms were removed under the austere rule of a one party state. We see the effect on a population whose every move is watched as the basic rights to free speech and movement are ruthlessly taken away. This film has all the elements, part political thriller, part history lesson and most importantly, a fully realised human drama. This is no coldly played out exposition film, it is marvelously textured with superbly nuanced performances and richly rewarding in its conclusion. I believe it is a fine example of the ability of celluloid to capture the human condition with all its flaws and qualities.

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