The Lives of Others is a brilliant feat of storytelling that portrays the necessity of artistic subversiveness in the face of political horror, specifically that of undermining the figurative and literal prisons of the Berlin Wall. In the story, Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler is tasked with spying on the playwright Georg Dreyman. The film shows the various ways in which Dreyman as the enemy shifts in Wiesler’s mind, eventually leading him to make some difficult choices in understanding who exactly is a definitive enemy of the state. Stellar performances accompany a strong script examining the limits of human devotion to a cause that, regardless of rational understanding of its effects on the individual, can turn even the most practical participant into a monster.
I am certainly not alone in thinking the most beautiful part of the film is its turning point. A memorable moment when Wiesler, alone in his dreary hovel of an observation deck, listens to Sonate vom Guten Menschen and his character changes for the remainder of the film – an exceptional whisper in the story as well as in Ulrich Mühe’s striking performance in the film. This moment – a quiet one that seems to balance the weight of everything the film holds on its thematic and emotional scales – highlight the beautiful and subtle stresses that hum underneath every moment of the piece. I found this truly captivating film all the more powerful in the context of a period piece with a lot of connections to a book I am working on. This beautiful film presents many of my intellectual turn-ons, not the least of which is its portrayal of being an artist examining the struggle of creating what is beautiful, what is right, and what is acceptable in a society embracing more and more totalitarian and suppressive behavior.
Ulrich Mühe’s performance is absolutely unforgettable.
I have just discovered your blog and am very pleased to see that you are essentially on the same project as I am. If you do not mind I will read your back catalogue and throw in some comments here and there (let me know if it gets bothersome) and add you to my blogroll on my own site.
There used to be quite a few 1001 bloggers around, but the number has been dropping over the past few years. I am so happy when I see new ones pop up, even though I can see you have been at it for a while.
Anyway concerning Das Lebens der Anderen I liked it tremendously. It was a big surprise when I watched it in the cinema. Somehow I had thought it was something else, but as you write, this is really about the human transformation when you actually get to know people. I have been to Berlin since watching the movie and I could not help thinking of it walking around in the city.
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Absolutely! We haven’t been doing it for a tremendously long time – we’re just finishing up our second year (take a look at the Extras section for our year 1 anniversary music video). Looking forward to reading your site and what you think about ours!
Lives Of Others was very much a beautiful film, stressful and subversive. It certainly examines the balance between being a cog in the brutal dehumanizing machinery of the government or choosing to save those caught in it. The further implications of everything it says about the wiretapping revelations of the past ten years or so is even more damning…we’re all human, we all want the same things, and we need to choose brotherhood.