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Chilling dramatization of socialist paradise

  • Jun 3, 2008
Rating:
+5
American college campuses overflow with devotees of Communism. The media are loaded with people who think Che Guevera was a hero and that the United States was wrong for resisting Communism.'

And then along comes a movie like "The Lives Of Others". Yes, it is a dramatization. No, the Stasi did not lavish two or more full time agents on a relatively minor dissident like the playwright here, Georg Dreyman. Yes, Communist bureaucrats did destroy the lives of others, as the Minister of Culture does here in pursuit of Dreymans girlfriend, Christa-Maria Sieland.

The hero is Hauptmann Wiesler, a Stasi Colonel. Tasked to nail Dreyman for something, anything, Wiesler becomes disillusioned as he realizes that his venal boss is so willing to destroy lives in order to curry favor with his higher-ups. Wiesler becomes sympathetic to his intended prey, which is unlikely to have happened in the real German Democratic Republic worker's paradise.

Bit by bit, Wiesler becomes a subversive himself as he discovers his own humanity.

The cat-and-mouse game between hunted and hunter, state servant and obsequious bureaucrat builds to somewhat predictable, but still suspenseful climax, as the Communist bureaucrats are flummoxed.

The end of the film plays out against the fall of the Wall and the dissolution of the German Communist state. Wiesler's Stasi is no more. The corrupt Communist leaders become ordinary citizens, stripped of their powers over the lives of others. Dreyman goes on to prosper in the new freedom, still haunted by his experience. Wiesler, once a godlike figure over his hapless victims, becomes a victim himself, but a noble one.

Overall, a chilling story and an honest metaphor for the horror that was a Communist nation where no one had a right to privacy.

Jerry

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More The Lives of Others reviews
review by . July 01, 2011
A sad, thoughtful and redemptive film
"Did you know that there are just five types of artists? Your guy, Dreyman, is a Type 4, a 'hysterical anthropocentrist.' Can't bear being alone, always talking, needing friends. That type should never be brought to trial. They thrive on that. Temporary detention is the best way to deal with them. Complete isolation and no set release date. No human contact the whole time, not even with the guards. Good treatment, no harassment, no abuse, no scandals, nothing they could write about …
review by . October 06, 2010
   Auteur Florian Henckle von Donnersmarck created The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen). Surveillance plays a huge role in this film weighing in at a bit over 2 hours. From time to time, the film can be as stagnant as endless surveillance. However . . .      The film is set principally from the middle of 1984 through the beginning of 1985 in East Germany (DDR, or GDR depending on your language of acronym). The Lives of Others is the tale of one member of the …
review by . September 03, 2009
A brilliant film about life in East Berlin, under the GDR, German Democratic Republic, before reunification. It reminds me of my time in Poland and East Berlin before the Wall fell. Love the dated fashion. The story, the writing, the acting, the relevance rank very high. It's so worth viewing.
review by . January 11, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Brilliant story, brilliant way of telling it      Cons: Might be too slow and subtle for a casual viewer      The Bottom Line: 30 words aren't enough. If you are a movie fan willing to pay attention to a deliberate, slow pace, then you should enjoy this film.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      Auteur Florian Henckle von Donnersmarck created The Lives …
review by . November 28, 2007
Having never heard of this movie a week ago, I stumbled onto it and am so thankful for dumb luck. It's not often I find myself obsessing over a movie rental but that's what happened here. 3 viewings and wanting more, at the very least I'll rent this again soon. In the end, I'll buy it on dvd. I wish I could have had a chance to see it in a theater. A quiet, textural movie filled with subtle shadings and emotional color where there is little visual color, The Lives of Others gets deeper every time …
review by . September 17, 2007
This is a well-made, very well-acted movie. As a personal bonus to me, the German was Hochdeutsch enough for me to understand it. I was moved to fears and tears by moments of it. However, it is significantly flawed by unrealism of a Hollywood sort not far from James Bond or 24. The bugging of the writer's apartment, during a couple hours of absence, could not have been anything like the hi-tech system shown in the movie. I traveled in East Germany before the Fall of the Wall, and I worked in both …
review by . August 25, 2007
Das Leben der Anderen (The Live of Others) is a powerful film that opens a window to the West of what life was like in East Germany during the time of the Berlin Wall. It is a tense yet balanced work by newcomer writer and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck who manages to present a tense story of espionage, suspense, intrigue, and political danger without the need for car chases, explosions, gunfire, or any of the usual accoutrements that pulse through other stories of this nature. Instead …
About the reviewer
Jerry Saperstein ()
Ranked #178
I am an e-discovery strategist, computer forensics specialist and testifying expert witness - and an avid reader.      Aside from technology books, I love thrillers, suspense, mystery, … more
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