Filmgrenser: De andres liv
- Tilhører tema:
- Filmgrenser 2
The film begins in East Berlin in 1984, five years before Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin wall, and tells the love story between the play writer Georg Dreyman and the actress Christa-Maria Sieland. But The Lives of Others is not only a love story situated in the theatre scene of East Berlin that moves between conformity, internal emigration and suicide, but also a political thriller that tells a lot about the structures of political power in the GDR. Captain Gerd Wiesler, a highly skilled officer who works for the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police, spies on the couple. During this process he becomes more and more disillusioned, recognizing that he is not spying on the couple because they are enemies of the state, but because a minister cannot take his eyes off the attractive actress.
During the film Dreyman’s position towards the state slowly changes. When his close friend theater director Alfred Jerska is driven to suicide, he can no longer remain silent and starts to write an article for the West German magazine Der Spiegel exposing the GDR’s policy of covering up the high suicide rates under the regime.
Wiesler is changing too: While he observes their day-to-day life, he begins to be drawn into their world – The Lives of Others – drawn into love, literature and music. Wiesler tries to protect the couple by hiding evidence and falsifying reports, but he can’t avoid the unavoidable: Christa-Maria’s drug addiction forces her to expose her lover as the author of the article, her tragic death ends the surveillance of Dreyman but also Wiesler’s career.
The question of morality and acting rightly, being a good person is the main theme in the film, telling us that change is possible and that each and everyone has the choice to be good.
The film was highly acclaimed and award-winning and can be considered one of the most successful recent German films about the GDR. In its first year, 1.7 million cinema viewers saw the film in Germany alone. In the United States it found one of the largest audiences for a foreign-language film in recent years.
Even though the film tells a fictive story about fictional persons, it is nevertheless considered authentic by many reviewers. Misha Glenny, for instance, finds the film’s authenticity “mind-blowing” (BBC Radio, 14. Apr. 2007). In contrast to earlier best selling films like Sonnenallee (1999) or Good bye, Lenin! (2002) – often reduced to nostalgic comedies by critics – The Lives of Others was said to be “one of the first attempts, since unification, to be serious about East Germany in film” (BBC Radio, 14. Apr. 2007).
By telling a story about life in East-Berlin in the 1980’s, the film of course also presents us with the border between East of West, and how important the Western press was for the public sphere in the GDR. But even more important than the border between East and West is the border between ones privacy and the state; a border violated by the Stasi.