Was machts du in deine Freizeit?
from Edinburgh, Scotland
, 12 May 2007
I was nine years old when the Berlin Wall came down. I remember seeing all of the news broadcasts on the television marking the historic event and listening to the intense relief and happiness of the people as they freely walked from one side of their once great, unified country to the other. I remember that even here, in Scotland, my parents and many other people were overjoyed at such a momentous occasion, at the wonderful victory that freedom and liberty had achieved.
There are some other memories I have of films I would watch in the next few years, concerning the time spent by those behind the Wall. Of the restrictive regime in East Germany, the totalitarian governments invasion of personal privacy, the lengths gone to by regular people to escape their homeland. I didnt always understand how a modern day, European country could be so wrong in its thinking and treatment of its people, but I was young.
Now, in The Lives of Others, we are invited back to the 1980s, to East Berlin, where the GDR is still fully operational and the Stasi are efficiently silencing every last dissident voice and strangling whats left of any artistic expression within the republic. We get to see first hand as top interrogator, Gerd Wiesler is assigned - on a decision made by the genitals of a horny minister - to carry out surveillance on a prominent playwright. Despite the writer, Dreyman, never having spoken out against the regime, Wiesler is pressured to find out damning information that will lead to his arrest and therefore the emancipation of his girlfriend and actress, Christa-Maria Sieland.
Like Animal Farm and 1984, and many other stories concerning Communist or Socialist practices, we are embroiled in a story that shows the immediate inadequacies and impossibility of the system. Always, the desire for good is shouted from the rooftops, whilst reality bears down in the form of greedy, lustful, power-hungry men who use the tactics of fear and repression for their own gains. Wiesler slowly starts to realise this fact, questioning his own morals and his part in the whole demonising machine, and the story unfolds as he begins to make his own decisions again.
To say that The Lives Of Others is therefore a tale of hope and spirit, that it encourages the humanity and soul of a person to rise above hardship, that it reminds us of our duty to ourselves and to each other in keeping us all safe and free from those who would seek to control us; this would be an understatement. It is all that and so much more, and for those of us who were not there, who did not witness these events and who could not imagine the extent of which a life could be subverted and controlled, it serves as a timely reminder, an honest look into a period and a place whose impact is still being felt throughout the world; its true legacy not yet entirely exposed.
This is a film of great import and resonance, a film that speaks to the heart of all of us, a film which deals with universal issues that all of mankind can identify with, and it is achieved through great empathy, intelligence, tension, subtlety, style and care. We are being shown a world which we would never want to live in, but a world which nevertheless did exist.
It is the power that the film has to let you explore this dark, demoralised world and yet still come away with a great feeling of hope and expectant optimism, that will stay with you long after you have left the theatre. This is essential cinema for all.
- Was this review helpful to you?
(372) Yes |