This week on Friday (November 25) we’re gonna watch:
Das Leben Der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
Written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (2006)
in German (with English subtitles), 137 min
One of the five Best Foreign Film nominees for this year’s Oscars, The Lives of Others essays life under the Stasi secret police in 1984 East Germany. With 100,000 employees and twice as many civilian informers, the Stasi strangled free expression and spread fear or recrimination. Under constant surveillance, all the world truly is a stage. Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck paints a glumly absurd landscape, and if the story of a stodgy but conflicted Stasi captain gives sympathy to a historical devil, it also allows for an intriguing angle on the evergreen cinematic theme of voyeurism. <GrouchoReviews.Com>Winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the recent Academy Awards, writer-director Florian Henkel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives Of Others is one of the most accomplished feature film debuts in recent memory. Set in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film revolves around Stasi captain Weisler entrusted with the job of spying on a successful playwright Dreyman suspected of anti-party activities. Gradually, as Weisler becomes increasingly vested in the lives of Dreyman and his performer-girlfriend, Christa-Maria, he begins to question his own affiliation with the GDR.
However, while the film is, on the surface, a historical-political drama, the narrative gives much greater weight to the human dimension that lies at its core. Raising questions about power, responsibility and morality, Weisler, who is initially established as the film’s antagonist, increasingly becomes the audience’s point of identification within the drama that unfolds. And it is the very stage of human drama that serves as an allegory for the interactions between the characters as Weisler’s surveillance transcripts start to resemble Dreyman’s plays. Josh Nelson, <Philmology.Com>