Friday, April 10, 2009

Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)

the german democractic republic (GDR) and the stasi (the secret police) reigned on east germany before the wall between east and west came down.

it was a drab, dreary, suppressive world were the state watches over its citizens in every aspect of their lives. you could easily observe this in the color tone used for the character's costumes and environment they moved around and lived in. it was kind of dead.

a stasi agent was tasked to hold a prominent playwright and effectively his wife who was also a prominent actress under tight surveillance because he became a suspect for being too clean.

the operation was to wait and listen, then record everything that transpires in the playwrite's house. any subversive word or action will be charged with treason or disloyalty to the state. imagine what kind of burden that is for merely saying things could potentially lead to imprisonment.

many artists like the playright before him were known subversives. some had escaped and embraced the west which stood for capitalism and freedom. for others who had been caught and blacklisted (though one of the heads of state in the film vehemently disputes it and that the state never blacklists) to perform their crafts had been silenced. and there were other artists who couldn't take it anymore, had taken their own lives which the state conveniently reclassifies as self murderers.

during the course of the surveillance, the stasi agent experiences a change introspective in him. from being ruled entirely by principle to beginning to feeling things. watch the elevator scene when the stasi agent rides it with a boy who rats on his father about saying anti-state things. normally the stasi agent would have the boy's dad arrested but maybe for this time, he let's it go.

the playwright had begun writing an article to be published in the west which exposes the social conditions and suicide rate specifically of artists in the GDR. this is obviously treason in principle but the stasi agent let's it go because he begins to appreciate the simple lives of his target.

i had always been a supporter of socialism but after watching what true socialism had been at least for east germany. i think that any extreme of the political spectrum could never be good and could only end up oppressing its citizens instead rather then uplift their lives.

maybe the central to the film was a message of striking a balance between the extremes living by principle vs feeling

Rate: 3 out of 5
No to extremes

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