Lives Of Others, The (2006)

"If only they'd stop having sex and talk about Nietzsche some more!"
"If only they'd stop having sex and talk about Nietzsche some more!"

Genre: Drama (Germany)

Starring: Sebastian Koch (The Tunnel), Ulrich Mühe (Funny Games)

Directed By: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Overview: This is the story of a East Berlin playwrighe put on surveillance during the 80s. The man listening at the other end of the wire, however, finds the lives of those he's listening to far more interesting.

Performance:

I saw Funny Games ages ago, and when I saw that the lead in that dark and awesome film was also the commie spy in this one, I though, 'good, a man working who's still in the business and really earning his pay check.' I hope Ulrich has a long and illustrious career. How a thin little man like this can go from teary-eyed emotionalism to cold interrogator and back again, well that's a path worth following.
Rating: 9

Cinematography:

I was surprised at how clearly I noticed the lack of artistic inspiration in the photography of this film. The lens did nothing but professionally capture the image, pan and zoom. The style of this film was neither naturalistic nor artistic. It's impressive that a man would win a Best Film award for his first feature film, but playing it safe and neutral with the visuals doesn't get you points in my book.
Rating: 6

Script:

The essence of doublespeak and vagaries in words is very nicely represented. While listening to a person's life, our veteran surveyor understands the nuances of the words spoken, but when the younger, greener transcriber takes over, he comically misinterprets the playwright's words for things that toe the party line, rather than the veiled subversion that is underway. Smooth...
Rating: 8

Plot:

Here's where everything comes together. We start off slow, educating the world about the listening State that is East Germany. We follow a playwright loyal to the cause as the State begins to monitor him. From this simple foundation, we follow a trail of State corruption that inspires the monitoring agent to take matters into his own hands and play for the wrong side.
Rating: 9


Mood:

With frequent bouts of double-cross and subterfuge, you'd expect something dark and sinister, but when every twist of fate is people going against the grain to help one another, you're left with an interesting feeling. After seeing this, you may find it simple to see the human element behind the fall of the Berlin wall.
Rating: 8


"Kierkegaard?" "Oh yes! YES!"
"Kierkegaard?" "Oh yes! YES!"

Overall Rating: 80% (Others May Like It More)
Aftertaste:

A solid, well made foreign film and far more deserving of praise than last year's Oscar pick, The Lives Of Others ultimately ends up in my 'innocuous' pile. When I heard about it, it was a 'maybe' film. After it won Best Foreign film, I knew it would be a good night out, and I certainly didn't expect less or more than what I got. They can't all be masterpieces in my books, but I have a hard time believing people would have an issue with this one.

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I just saw this last week; it was on my movies wish list, and I was not disappointed one bit. I respectfully disagree with you about the cinematography. I thought it perfectly captured the repression of 80s East Germany. Systematic - without fanfare, following strict rules. I think the director was going for restraint, which is reflected in the actors emotions too. No flashiness here.


I agree. I thought the camera work here was reflective of the society it was filming--rigid and unmovable. I found this film surprisingly moving as well. I liked it far more than I thought I would.

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