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Life stories are an important catalyst for your creativity and for your psychological and moral perception. They speak about the human condition, our passions, our struggles, our triumphs and defeats, and our reasons for living. No matter the story being told, if you dare to open yourself up and discover its concepts, there is still something in it that you can connect to. If there was a film for Americans or anyone having a difficult time seeing things from another’s perspective, to watch right now, it’s THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006) A German film that won the Oscar for best International film, although it was by far and away the best film that year. Yes, I think it is way better than the Departed and you will too after you watch it.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS focuses on the cultural scene in East Berlin during the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the middle of the 1980s. It illuminates the corrupt system during the communist regime of the GDR. It was a regime which was characterized by espionage and inhumane and morally doubtful acts. In the film, the Stasi commissar Gerd Wiesler, a faithful supporter of the totalitarian regime, has been instructed to observe the popular artistic couple Christa-Maria Sieland and Georg Dreyman who work at a theatre and devote their life to cultural and intellectual exchange. By eavesdropping on the couple, Wiesler penetrates into the lives of the ‘others’. Suddenly the loyal communist is faced with a forbidden and inaccessible world – a world full of free spirit, passion, challenge and diversity.
HERE’S A LITTLE CONTEXT
AT THE END OF WWII
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof in Potsdam, Germany, from July 17 to August 2, 1945. THEY DECIDED THAT in order to reduce the risk that Germany could threaten world peace once more the main agreements of this conference were:
1. The entire disarmament and ‘denazification’ of Germany.
2. The stabilisation of life by introducing democratic and constitutional values.
3. The decentralization of the German economic system and administration, in order to spread power.
As a consequence of their totally different and opposing political systems, the Soviet Union and the United States were given separate areas of responsibility, splitting Germany into two different parts. East Berlin was controlled by the Soviet Union and thus functioned under their rule, with which unfortunately came the Stasi because Authoritarianism.
The Stasi’s primary task was to eradicate all political views that contradicted communist ideology, to coordinate political operations against competing forces (‘Operativer Vorgang’) and to identify politically unacceptable actions among East German civilians. The Stasi spied on citizens and many homes were bugged in order to get as much information as possible and to uncover people who had thoughts and views that were critical of the government.the Stasi often used heavy-handed tactics such as threatening and blackmailing.
Now that we have a little context, let’s talk about the film, which takes place near the end of this period but at a time when the Soviet union was in desperation to keep their hold on a freedom wanting civilization.
It is 1984 and in the dystopian East Berlin, the powerful secret police, are monitoring all aspects of life in the totalitarian society under communism. To accomplish this immense task, they employ hundreds of thousands and rely on the information and betrayal of another hundred thousand or more. The film does an amazing job effectively showing the environment of terror, mistrust, and misery that pervades a culture where the standard operating procedure is to spy on others. It’s also a reminder that policymakers may attempt to justify creating a similar scheme in the name of providing protection against terrorism unless vigilant care is taken by civilians today.
Captain Gerd Wiesler is a seasoned Stasi agent, whose face expresses no perceivable shadow of something like human feeling, with seemingly no private life. His expertise is interrogation. He is likely to get to the truth hiding behind those he is investigating, one way or another. His superior officer, Lt. Col. Grubitz, grants him approval to start tracking Georg Dreyman, a famous playwright who dates a glamorous actress, Christa-Maria Sieland. Wiesler and Grubitz are powerful adversaries of anything that may show some support for the West or in some way violate the law.
The flat of Georg and Christa-Maria is bugged from floor to ceiling, with Weisler practically roosting in the attic of their apartment building controlling a 24/7 observation of their every word and deed. Wiesler is a true believer in the sincerity of his mission, and so he is perplexed when he discovers that Christa-Maria is forced to have sex with him and pay her off with narcotics by Minister Hempf, a former Stasi officer who has now become Head of the Cultural Department.He is also shook by Dreyman’s sorrow when his friend, Director Albert Jerska, commits suicide after his career has been ruined by the Stasi.
At first glance, The Lives of Others seems to be about the cultural ideals of pro-communist East Berlin in the mid eighties. But, the film is less of an illustration of communism’s advantages and disadvantages and more of a tale of the struggle of humanity to grow emotionally and spiritually. The setting of the film creates an easy to understand lesson, using powerful historical context to illustrate humanity’s need to learn, love, and appreciate each other.
Now, as much as I want to continue to grown on about this film I think it is important for basically every single human being to watch the film right now, because spoiler alert, they learn that they aren’t that different from each other and maybe the all the rhetoric and calls for spying and imprisonment of people is a fucking bad thing….
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