The Lives of Others

From the desk of The Movie Snob

The Lives of Others (A). I was starting to wonder whether I was getting tired of movies. I’ve watched a lot of Oscar nominees lately, and although they were all pretty good I couldn’t give any of them an “A.” Then I watched this German film, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It restored my faith (or at least hope) in the movies. The film is set in East Germany, 1984. Roughly 100,000 people work for the dreaded Stasi, the secret police, and many more people than that are Stasi informers. In the German Democratic Republic, it was almost impossible for a citizen not to be compromised in some form or fashion, as this movie brilliantly illustrates. Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe, The Castle) of the Stasi is a true believer who supervises the surveillance of Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch, Bridge of Spies), a playwright who is also a true believer in “socialism” but whose idealism inevitably cracks in the face of the corrupt reality of the GDR. More remarkable, Wiesler’s communist convictions begin to crack at the same time. Martina Gedeck, who was so good in Mostly Martha, plays Dreyman’s actress girlfriend. An engrossing look at the society that may have come closest to achieving the dystopia of Orwell’s 1984. It’s a must-see.

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