The REAL 1984
Swift shot:Â Mired in suspense and intrigue, The Lives of Others reminds us that socialism comes with a hefty price.Â Â There will always be corruption in the liesof others as idealism fails to achieve results.Â Monotony is a tool Director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck wields effectively, but long-winded in many places which will fail to capture the attention of the bulk of viewers.Â Still, if you were looking for a spy movie or action-flick, you should have done a lot more research.Â This piece is dry by design.
It will be hard for contemporary and younger viewers to grasp the drama in this foreign film, set in Stasi-controlled East Germany, the DDR – remember that?Â Yea, so few do, but for decades, people risked life and limb, quite literally in some cases, to flee the “Glorious” German Republic under the Iron Curtain of the USSR and traverse “Der Mauer”.
I have friends who crossed into the DDR on top secret missions for the US, sometimes just to deliver information and aide to artists, among others, just to remind them they were not alone in the struggle for democracy.
The Lives of Others follows one such artist as he seeks to make a statement, to the West, that things are not all happiness and sunshine in the DDR.Â Playwright Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) passionately reciprocates the loss of his mentor with an article subversively published in Der Spiegel.Â The Stasi agent in charge of his case, Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe) comes across like a German Kevin Spacey, in fact the similarities are eerie.
In one chilling scene, a little boy looks up at Wiesler and asks, “Are you with the Stasi?”Â The hard-edged agent is about to ask the boy who is father is, but then rescinds and asks him the name of his ‘ball’ instead.
The Lives of Others leaves this agent wondering, what have I given of my life, for the state, what identity have I shed so that I might serve the “greater good” for my country?Â What are my boundaries andÂ what is my purpose in this game of agitation?Â Excellent scenes help build up the angst of all the characters, and my only severe criticism falls on Martina Gedeck who, although acting in a foreign tongue, delivers a sub-par performanceÂ as Christa-Maria Sieland – effectively taking me “out of the movie” countless times.