Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)

MUST-SEE: (Henckel von Donnersmarck) Shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Berlin suffocated its citizens with a life void of secret. The secret police trained its members to spy on and interrogate society members believed to support the West. They ran wires through the house walls, listened to the most intimate of moments, and never hesitated at the suggestion of misbehavior. The indulgence was so extreme, that even the secret police's own employees began to question the integrity of the government, manifesting doubt in the mind of those held in highest East Berlin regard. Such is the storyline of HvonD's The Lives of Others. This film is the story behind one case the GDR held in high classification. A popular playwright of the time, George Dreyman (played flawlessly by Sebastian Koch) called into question by a jealous prime minister is secretly tapped for months in hopes of catching his plans for rebellion before they began. Ulrich Muhe plays the cold-hearted agent in charge of Dreyman's case, gisting all dialogue, reporting each suspicion, and helping himself to play a part in Dreyman's life 24 hours a day. The storyline makes its punch with the theme that art will outlast government control. The audience witnesses a dramatic change, not only in the government, but also in the men who work for the GDR. Realizing they've gone too far, the men find they are trapped in the horror that is communism. And as the officials promote communist socialism, more and more people are interrogated, tortured, and even killed along the way to eradication of Western tendency. A powerful performance by Martina Gedeck, playing East Berlin's "it" girl evokes the inner battle many people faced when they were forced to choose their art or their life. The Lives of Others beautifully illustrates the emotions of both sides, contrasting love and obsession with good and evil. Von Donnersmarck excels with The Lives of Others, making great acting, frank storytelling, and phenomenal heart the standard for Best Foreign Films. See this movie, despite the subtitles, and allow yourself the education of both history and the human spirit through the tragedy of East Berlin.

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