Film: The Lives of Others


Ulrich Muhe in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others." Photo by Hagen Keller (image from film)

I caught The Lives of Others this week. Set in the early eighties, it is a creepy drama-meets-thriller about a Stasi operative who spies on a famous writer for reasons that are less to do with state security and more to do with a woman and a jealous rival.

The movie beautifully recreates the banality and subtle horror of a totalitarian regime before its fall. You get a sense that Formica has never been photographed so lovely. The story unfolds like a thriller but it is a little more than that, and its interest in human frailty is really what makes it stand out.

Seeing it with M, I had to explain the history of East Germany as much as possible without annoying the other cinema-goers so it does help to have some understanding about post-war Germany before seeing it... And there I was thinking that everyone had seen Gotcha! so that would explain enough... Anyway a great film not to be missed...

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